Hurricanes, Preparedness and The Faithful Servant
Today is Tuesday, September the fifth, and I have known of the impending Hurricane Irma since Sunday. I am a resident of Tampa Bay, Florida, so I’ve been watching the weather updates pretty closely. It will be another 3-4 days before we know the most likely path of the storm, and at least 5-6 days before it makes US landfall. By last night the Walmart was out of bottled water, and there were lines at the gas stations. As I walked through the buzzing aisles, I saw an earnestness in people’s eyes. I sensed, not quite desperation, but certainly fearfulness. Many are trying to leave Florida, wanting to escape the brunt of the wind and storm surge sure to accompany a direct hit. We checked flights out of Tampa this morning, and they are filling up fast. The cheap seats are already gone.
It has been 12 years since a major storm disrupted our idyllic, tropical way of life. But, as I write, the meteorological prognosticators are weaving their predictive models. They all seem to agree that Florida is prime target for Irma. But, where will it hit? Will it be Miami? The East Coast? Or, the Gulf perhaps… We cannot yet know, not for certain. The prudent thing to do is expect the worst- buy bottled water, gas up the vehicles, and dust off the generator if you have one. The Governor has already declared a state of emergency, but evacuations have not yet been ordered.
I believe in preparedness. Throughout the Proverbs, and, indeed the full testimony of scripture, the man who stores up for rainy days is commended. “A wise man thinks ahead; but a fool doesn’t, and even brags about it.” says Proverbs 13:16. It pays to have a plan, and something set aside for just in case. On the other hand, fools won’t do what’s right, even when it would make their lives easier. Case in point, I have seen an abundance of internet memes flouting the storm, hurricane playlists to listen to while the storm rages, and making fun of the people who are hurriedly running from store to store for the needed supplies. It’s mostly younger people who post this nonsense; many of whom are too green to know what real loss is. It sickens me, especially in light of what we are seeing in Houston.
Since, I believe in preparedness, rather than waiting for the last minute, I am calling for believers across this land to pray for Florida, and the entire Caribbean. Why wait? Preparedness is about acting in advance of an emergency, in order to situate oneself to best weather it. In this case, the pun is intended. Christians, please pray for us. Ask God for His mercy, to spare lives, and to provide Christian volunteers who will help us rebuild. Jesus said, “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into the harvest fields.” I can tell you that after the storm there will be plenty of need for laborers in Florida. Please don’t put off praying for us.
I think there is a spiritual lesson in this. Jesus told a story about five foolish maidens and five wise maidens. The foolish maidens trimmed their lamps, but did not have the forethought to keep any extra lamp fuel on hand, should the need arise. But, the wise maidens had trimmed lamps, and enough oil to light the lamps much longer than they supposed they would need. Unfortunately, they did not have enough to share with the foolish maidens who ran out long before the party started. The wise maidens got to enjoy a nice party, but the foolish maidens were locked out in the dark. It happens that way sometimes.
Today, on the way home from picking up my daughter from school, I reminded her of the parable of the faithful servant. When the boss leaves the office, he expects business to go on as usual. He wants his employees to remain working as if he is there, standing over them, supervising their conduct. If he was to suddenly breeze back into the office, a few hours before quitting time, only to find his employees lollygagging it would not go well. If, on the other hand, the employees were diligent to their task, knowing that the boss was an austere man, it would be well for them. They would be rewarded for trying to please the boss. They would not be caught unawares.
Both of these stories come down to basic wisdom principles, and the basic desire of every christian- to please the Lord. It is wise to prepare in advance for situations that are out of our control. It is the faithful servant who anticipates the return of his master, and longs to be found doing what his master has commanded. When the Hurricane comes many will be without the basic necessities. Some will have enough for themselves. Far fewer will be have stockpiled enough to share with even their closest friends and neighbors.
I know that there will be Christian communities across the state of Florida who will mobilize and minister once the flood waters recede into the Atlantic. They will do much with little. They will love greatly their neighbors and labor earnestly on his behalf. God’s church will answer the call, and He will be given Glory. The ministry will border on the miraculous. But, it need not wait to begin. It can start right now. It can start with you, dear reader. So, I say again, please pray for Florida.