Seeing God In The Hurricane
Hurricane Isaias was recently downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm. After pounding the Bahamas with rain, the storm set its sights on the Florida coastline. Despite Isaias not packing the hurricane punch it was predicted to initially bring, it still let its presence be known in Florida to kick off the month of August.
Tropical Storm Isaias, admittedly, hit a lot softer than many other hurricanes. However, the severity of the storm still knocked out power for thousands of Florida residents as well as flooding and power outages in the Bahamas. Tropical storms and hurricanes bring destruction. They also bring a powerful reminder of God and our faith.
CBS 4 Miami news station aired a story on Saturday, August 1, that broadcasted a video (WEBSITE: https://miami.cbslocal.com/2020/08/01/rough-surf-isaias-beaches-closed-palm-beach-lake-worth-beach/) where police were trying to convince two individuals to get out of the dangerous waters. The waves and ocean may have been enticing to some thrill seekers or high surf dare devils, but police had closed the beaches. Police in fact did not even risk going into the waters to rescue or make the swimmers come out. They used a loud speaker to convince the individuals to finally get out of the dangerous tide. According to CBS 4, it took around 5 minutes to get the individuals to come out. “Just as they reached the beach, a strong squall moved in,” the report said.
We all find ourselves enticed by temptations. We are all guilty of getting sucked up into our sins and neglect making the decisions to put us on the safe ground of Christ rather than the rough waters of the devil. Our Lord Jesus Christ himself was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1-11) If Jesus endured temptation then we should never think we are immune from the same.
“Temptation is an attraction, either from outside oneself or from within, to act contrary to right reason and the commandments of God. Jesus himself during his life on earth was tempted, put to the test, to manifest the opposition between himself and the devil and the triumph of his saving work over Satan” (CCC 538)
Just like the two swimmers who ignored the dangers and jumped in the water, we dive into the rapid ocean of sin that seeks to overtake us. “Why don’t you come in, for your safety”, the deputy asked over the loud speaker to the swimmers. Jesus is asking us the same question. He is standing at the shore asking us why we do not choose to come in for our own safety. When attempting to encourage the two men to come out of the ocean before it was too late, police reportedly told them that if they got into trouble while swimming there would be no one there to rescue them. If we remain in the ocean of our sins without coming to the shore of Reconciliation we, too, will be left without anyone to save us when we face our final judgment.
It doesn’t matter the classification or strength of the storm we are facing. The hurricane bearing down on you could be alcoholism, pride, greed, envy, adultery, gambling, homosexuality. It could be a “tropical storm” of lying, gossiping, or giving the driver who cut you off in traffic the finger. Jesus stands on the sand of grace and is begging you to come out of the waves of sin and onto the shore of Reconciliation, where grace flows and Jesus meets you. “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” (Romans 5:20)
Sin quickly increases. Tropical Storm Isaias gives a visual example of just how powerful sins can pile up and appear to swallow us. The state of Florida was already overwhelmed by the rising numbers of COVID cases, nearing almost 500,000 as of August 1, 2020. (WEBSITE: https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/florida-adds-7104-coronavirus-cases-as-state-total-nears-500k/2271769/) As officials and emergency responders worked to treat those affected, as well as stop the spread of the virus, they received news that another blow was coming to them. We, as sinful humans, allow our sins to stack up as well. We may find ourselves trying to stop the rising spread of one sin in our life while suddenly experiencing a storm of additional sins that threaten to drown us. One should never be afraid of how high the pile gets because there is beauty in the storm.
There is always a way to the shore. Additionally, there is someone waiting on the sand for us. He not only calls to you to come near to Him but also commands the seas with the sound of His voice. The hurricane can pound a helpless town, crush homes, displace residents, and topple trees, but it becomes a peaceful stream at the sound of His voice. It’s that same voice that calls us to repentance. The voice that calms the storm is calling us to come to Him for safety. We only need to step on the sands of Reconciliation to accept the safety it offers. The tropical storms dumping water on your life faster than you can swim may leave depression, despair, anxiety, fear, hopelessness, helplessness, and frustration. There is always a way to the shore.
“He (Jesus) got into a boat and His disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but He was asleep. They came and woke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ He said to them, ‘Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?’ Then He got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. The men were amazed and said, ‘What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?” (Matthew 8:23-27)
What is your reaction during the storm? Does God seem to be sleeping? When we take a closer look at the storm, and the aftermath, we see the power of our God. In the midst of the storm, we see Christ on the shore. We may ignore the warning signs our faith gives and jump into the ocean of sin. We can find ourselves feeling surrounded by vicious attacks, sins, and temptations that seem to sink us. It might take every small amount of our strength, effort, motivation, and faith to push ourselves forward. With every inch we tread toward the shore we get closer to safety and to Christ. Go ahead! Step onto the shores of Reconciliation and out of the ocean of sin.