“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder” 

Luke [11:21]–22


As we were evacuating from coastal Carolina in front of hurricane Florence, we began to get calls and text messages. They all contained a simple message, “be safe.” In turn we sent the same message to our neighbors as they made their plans. What did “be safe” mean to us? It was a remarkable outpouring of human kindness from our friends and relatives. In an age where we are bombarded by the media of human frailties, these small two words spoke about the greatness of human compassion. An empathetic response from close friends, parents and relatives that they were with us. It also told us what was important.

In these two words I see the greatness of humankind. These two words spoken over and over again won’t be the focus of the news, it will be about the plundering caused by a wildly vicious storm. But these two words will be remembered by all that heard them. These words buoyed my wife and myself. They became more important than our house or possessions. They spoke to us through our hearts.

We have been told by the civil authorities we won’t be able to return home for at least a week, maybe even weeks or months. We were told that our house will be damaged. Surely these are concerns, but our house is replaceable and the money we lose can be earned again. What was important to us, was the pictures in our truck that contained a life of joy. What was important to us was that we remained safe for our children, grandchildren and parents. What was also important were that our neighbors were out of harm’s way.

In the Bible verse for today, Jesus asks that we stay safe. This verse is from the famous Parable of the Strongman. Like all of the parables of Jesus, there are many messages. In this parable, Jesus is telling us to protect what is important and be fully armed. Fully armed in our faith. Fully armed in protecting what is important. But also, to be wary of those things bigger than us. To not fear them, but be wise. To know they exist and be fully prepared. Sometimes that means walking away when our foe, like a hurricane, that is bigger and stronger.

The hurricane will reap its havoc. We will all have to band together to resurrect our community. There will be months of turmoil to fix what is broken. Our job today, as it is with any of life’s setbacks, is to respond faithfully. Our job today is to help our neighbor, protect what is most important and mostly be safe. 

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Photo by Shayne House