This morning I was reminded that Hurricane Irene hit the Outer Banks with a vengeance eleven years ago this week. I was immediately transported back in time. My mother lived in a waterfront condo 30 minutes away in Manteo and her building’s elevator system was wiped out, so she came to live with us until it was repaired. I stepped into the role of “disaster relief coordinator” for my church and organized teams to go and help people muck out from the flood waters. Two teams from my home conference and church came from Georgia and we deployed them to a small church in Stumpy Point and to local homes to help with clean up and repair. It was a time of great exhaustion but also great joy, seeing my new church in Kitty Hawk come together in such a beautiful way.
In my own home, we suffered $25,000. worth of damage. A chimney blew apart, bringing rainwater into two rooms for days, and a large dock was dismantled in the raging storm. We also lost two cars. A few days after the hurricane subsided, a neighbor from down our canal rang our doorbell to say that part of our dock had landed intact on his boat lift, and would we please come and get it off. I immediately called my chain saw crew from church and gave them the address.
Hebrews 13 was part of last week’s lectionary assignment, and it fits perfectly with this memory today. I was privileged to see my church love each other like family. I was privileged to watch people open their homes to others. I was privileged to see church members donate supplies and food to the needy, never counting the cost. I was privileged to learn once again that the Lord is our helper, and we need not be afraid.
Hebrews 13 (Common English Bible)
13 Keep loving each other like family. 2 Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it. 3 Remember prisoners as if you were in prison with them, and people who are mistreated as if you were in their place. 4 Marriage must be honored in every respect, with no cheating on the relationship, because God will judge the sexually immoral person and the person who commits adultery. 5 Your way of life should be free from the love of money, and you should be content with what you have. After all, he has said, I will never leave you or abandon you. 6 This is why we can confidently say,
The Lord is my helper,
and I won’t be afraid.
What can people do to me?
Have you ever been in a time of great distress and saw the Lord rush to your aid? Can you tell that story to someone who needs a reminder today? We need not be afraid with the Lord at our side.
7 Remember your leaders who spoke God’s word to you. Imitate their faith as you consider the way their lives turned out. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
Your life circumstances will change with the prevailing winds. Storms will come and go. People will come and go. But Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Thanks be to God!
I remember that storm well too. It was a real blessing to see folks come together and serve God.
It was so amazing to see, Jim! You were a big part of it.