Today marks day 21 with no electricity thanks to hurricane Gustav. I have done everything I can. I have made phone call after phone call. And still I wait. I am thankful to have a place to stay during this time, but I am anxious to get home. The whole process has been frustrating at times. There have been tears.
Last night when my youngest son came home (to my parents house where we are staying) he said he had stopped by our house and it had been broken into. He checked his room to identify what was missing and I will go today to check the rest of the house and file a police report.
Needless to say, this news was disheartening. As soon as I was able, I retreated into my room where I lay on the bed, staring at the ceiling. With tears, I told the Lord “I have no idea how to respond to this. Lord please show me how to respond.”
Moments later, so very clearly, this verse from the apostle Paul came to mind – “none of these things move me.” And as it came it brought strength. This word from God was so packed full of life in that moment that I began to feel free from the sorrow that had filled my heart and was instead filled with a wonderful sense of peace. And this song flooded into my mind –
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot
Thou hast taught me to say
It is well
It is well with my soul
Indeed – it is well
Tragedy has a way of bringing hidden things to light. I am thinking primarily of inner things, like attitudes and motives. It would surely be an exaggeration to categorize hurricane Gustav as a tragedy for me personally, but it was most certainly a terrible inconvenience. Over the course of the days that followed there was a wide range of emotions that I have dealt with: sorrow over all the damage that had been done to our city; irritation with all the inconvenience associated with daily life; and sadness because I felt that little concern was shown by people I know in other parts of the country for how I might have been affected by the storm. This last one has been most troubling to me.
As I have pondered this issue (for it has affected me deeply), I have taken it to the Lord in prayer. Although it may be a factual issue, I was concerned that my heart was not right in this matter and that offense was beginning to creep in. So I cried my sorrow out to the Lord and asked Him to adjust my perspective and to help me see this situation as He did.
That night as I was finishing up the book of Colossians, I read these words written by the apostle Paul in the final verse – Remember my chains. I felt the Lord drawing my attention to that verse, so I stopped and read it again. Yes, this is what I want. I want someone to remember my chains. I have felt forgotten. Neglected. Somebody should remember me.
Feeling quite self satisfied, as though this Scripture justified the ugliness that was growing in my heart, I breathed a sigh of relief, certain that God was on my side and that my hurt feelings were warranted. But so softly and more gently than I deserved at that moment, He spoke to me through that verse – “Whose chains have you remembered?”
I had no defense. I had no excuse. Utterly ashamed, I could only cry out “No one’s Lord!”
So, before the world (whoever may be reading this) I confess that there was a plank in my own eye while I was angry about the speck in yours. And I pray that the Lord will help me to remember the chains of others and forget my own.
This morning I am waiting for Gustav to make landfall. I live about 80 miles from New Orleans and we are expecting hurricane force winds here within the next few hours. Last night there was a tornado sighting alarmingly close to where I am.
I have been battling fear.
This morning the Lord comforted me with this verse: “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything” Philippians 4:5b-6a
The Lord is at hand. All is well.
Pray for us on the Gulf Coast.