Matthew has plowed through Haiti and is heading for Charleston, South Carolina this week.
Being coastal, it is a state that sees it’s share of storms and hurricanes. But Matthew–a hurricane packing category 4 winds, is too reminiscent of Hugo, who swept through Charleston as ground zero some 25 years ago. When I lived there, just 15 miles inland, as a young 30 year old mom with two toddlers and a submariner husband.
I remember vividly how FEAR gripped me as the storm approached . . . and how God COMFORTED my fears and SAVED me in the midst of the storm. A great story which I share here, to encourage those in the path of Matthew, and those weathering the hurricane force winds that are assailing our nation at present:
Some twenty years ago, I lived in Charleston, South Carolina – ground zero for Hurricane Hugo. Hugo was a category four storm – 156 mile an hour winds – spawning tornadoes.
You do a storm like that once – never again. Up until that day, I had large red headed woodpeckers eating from my feeder just out the kitchen window. I delighted to watch them every day, along with the jays, and sparrows, and cardinals, and finches.
After Hugo, the smaller birds returned. But never saw the woodpeckers again. I lived there for four years.
Hugo arrived just six months after we’d moved into our new construction home in a nice new development called, Canterbury Woods. We renamed it, Canterbury Sticks, post Hugo.
My husband at the time was the engineer on a submarine that was being worked on. It was strapped to the dock while all the other ships were sent to deep water. He was able to be home with me and the kids who were toddlers at the time. A family with three children stayed with us, evacuated for safer ground as they lived a mile from the shoreline. We were 15 miles inland.
As the day darkened, I became overwhelmed with fear! It was like a great claw hand had a grip on my shoulder and, shaking me uncontrollably. Trembling, I ran to my bedroom and bath, gagging from my nauseous stomach.
I had to pull myself together! I was the grown-up and had to look after my children. They happily played with their friendsas we waited together. Not a care in the world.
But, I was melting down.
The sky darkened and the rain barely began falling that afternoon. Within hours, the landscape of my neighborhood and town would be radically changed. In my room, I shook with fear and cried out to God to calm the storm in my heart and mind.
I saw my house as though looking down upon the roof. On the roof, sitting straddled and facing each other, were two HUGE angels! They were laughing and talking and the winds were blowing – but they paid it no mind. Trees fell towards the house, but they just brushed them away with their arms and continued laughing and chatting.
The Lord spoke very clearly to my spirit:
“As your house is built on a firm foundation, so, too, you have built your life on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ.You will not be moved.”
There was a sudden flood. A flood of PEACE surged through me. The shaking and trembling immediately stopped. I was calm and at rest and rejoined the adults in the family room to weather the storm. We put the children to bed in their rooms while listening to the horrible roar outside, feeling safe within.
In the morning, we rolled out of bed and into the street. The shock and awe of the devastation was astounding. A pine tree went through the neighbor’s house, diagonally across the street from us, like a missile. Two doors down, a tree fell through a house, cutting it in two. Roofs ripped off, trees down so that it was impossible to drive on the street. An overwhelming sight of destruction.
And, our house? We lost nine trees. They all fell AROUND THE HOUSE in a circle – not a one touching the house – as though brushed aside by unseen hands. Oh, there was a small branch that took out $35.00 worth of shingles from the corner of the garage. My neighbors didn’t have any shingles left at all.
The Hand of God – faithful to keep!
Matthew seems metaphorical to the national hurricane of anarchy and distress that has gripped America. Fear is rampant at the threats of death and destruction that whip through our historic landscapes and small towns. We are fortifying our properties and worrying over our futures and our loved ones. As the election looms like a dark funnel cloud offshore yet some weeks, we pray the Lord to push back the damage already done and vanquish further potential calamities into the sea. Restore sunshine and rightness . . . birdsong and blessing.
Though we can’t now be sure of the path of either Matthew or our nation, we CAN be confident in a God who loves us, still works miracles today, and whose hand is faithful to keep us through wind, floods, and fires.
Because we are built up, on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ . . . we will not be moved.
Sharing Hurricane Matthew Faith Flashbacks to Hurricane Hugo this week with: