“Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat.”


On Tuesday September 11th, 2018, I was sitting on my front porch in the early morning waiting for Hurricane Florence to hit the coast of North Carolina, where I live. The day before we completed all the suggested preparation steps. We had our evacuation route planned and found a place to stay many miles away. My two friends Rusty and Bill, who had been through hurricanes before, approved all of our preparations. We were ready.

The morning was calm and the sun started to peek over the horizon. It was a normal early morning, like so many that happened before. There was stillness and the sounds of the crickets and frogs. But in two days, according to the weather forecasters, normalcy would disappear, replaced by catastrophic winds, flooding and many inches of rain.

We were leaving and were prepared according to the instructions from our civil authorities and the best advice from our neighbors. We had packed up in our truck all that was important to our family, pictures of our daughters when they were young. These memories were what was most important to us in our preparation.

But debate surrounded my neighbors, should they stay or go. This question surrounded our community during these days of preparation. What to do? A diificult question to answer for some and for others a firm resolution of what to do. Staying meant enduring catastrophic winds and the potential to be isolated for many days. Leaving meant safety, but what would we come back to find?

Naturally, I turned my thoughts to God’s purpose and will. What could I do and what could I expect? What did God want me to do? I turned to prayer. Praying for my neighbors and their houses. Praying that all would be well. Praying for a miracle to spare our community. Praying for the safety of those who chose to ride it out. Praying for those who chose to go to higher ground. In this moment on my porch it was all I could do and all I had left to do.

Sitting on my porch I was left looking at another crossroad of life, deciding which way to turn. Do I trust that God will calm the storm or panic? Many times I had seen in the past that panic only created extraordinary emotions that accomplished little. But prayer and being prepared was calming. I knew that my house may be lost or my neighbors may suffer greatly. But this was not mine to control. All I could do was be prepared and believe in God.

In today’s verse the disciples are beset with a furious storm. A storm that threatened their lives. They panicked and  woke Jesus up, who had been sleeping in the bottom of the boat. Jesus said to them,  “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

I reflected on this verse and what it meant. I was calm like this early morning, knowing that I would see the presence of God over the next few days. Surely there would be those who will take advantage of those of us in distress. Surely there would be difficult days ahead caused by the weather. Surely there would be those that questioned our course of preparation. But surely,  the greatness of God and most of humanity would soar above these distractions.

Later, on this day I had one final thing to do before we headed to higher ground, I had to do a presentation at a book club. As we were discussing where was God in this disaster, unexpectedly a woman voiced a calming sentiment. She said, “It is not the forth coming disaster we should be focused on, by how we respond. We can choose to panic or stay calm and help.” It is all we can do, stay calm and help others. God is with us.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Photo by Quino Al