This past Sunday I had the opportunity to speak at a local church. I had wrestled and prayed about what to share. Hurricane Sandy was looming off our coast. The projected path was literally set for over my house on the Jersey Shore. For days, news and weather channels were raising panic within all of us calling this, “Frankenstorm.” Tense laughter filled aisles of supermarkets as water was eerily missing from shelves. So as the Lord spoke to my heart, asking me to talk on Jesus calming the storm in Luke 8, you can imagine my reaction. I wouldn’t talk on “that,” I couldn’t imagine it not sounding corny. Although He tugged at my soul harder, I made a different set of notes.
As I sat in the pew awaiting my name to be called, I heard Christ, once again ask if I might talk about this story. The church was only half full as I stood before the congregation. Many were already home making preparations for the impending doom. Exchanging notes, I set out to tell of 12 disciples scared for their lives in the midst of what I believe could have been a hurricane. All the while their Messiah was asleep. What stuck out to me from this passage was a phenomenal idea. Yes, we all know that Jesus calmed the storm. This is important. However, I don’t really think that was the point. You see when the winds have been subdued Christ rebukes his friends for their lack of faith. Why? They should have understood that no matter what HE WAS THERE TO PROTECT THEM. As we left that day, I knew the sermon was for my own heart. As this colossal threat stood at my door what would be my own reaction? Would I know that no matter what happened, Jesus was close at hand, caring and loving all of us.
Now I sit on the other side of this monster storm. Jesus did not push back this mammoth into the sea. It’s power did not dissipate. Instead it plowed through the homes and neighborhoods around us. The pictures many are witnessing on CNN are literally blocks away from me. Personally, I am thankful for friends who took us in to evacuate the coast. Our house is still standing, with some shingles off the roof. We were and are safe. However, the house next to us is standing with a tree on the roof. The streets are barely passable. We know many who have lost everything: homes, cars, all their “stuff” is gone. You may be watching it on a screen, I am looking into the eyes of those I know. Important places in the life of our family are literally washed out to sea. Sitting in stunned silence, you wonder what to do? Where do I start?
Luke 8 is the beginning. Christ is not asleep. He is here to take care of us. He is needed in this area more than ever. As we began the clean up today, I was struck with at thought. All of our “stuff” may be in jeopardy at any moment still we are standing together. Thankfully, my family and friends continue to have each other.
At this point on the “inside” we don’t really know what to do. We keep waiting to wake up from this dream and have “normal” restored. There is no routine. No school. No work for many to go to. We have no idea when many of the children will even be able to go to school again, as it is acting as the shelter for those who like us, can’t be in their home. Some are wondering, with no home at all what will be next? Others, (like us) just can’t be there full time because it is cold, and dark and has no water. So you sleep at home and find some place to be during the day. There are curfews to get off the streets at 7 PM. Power and will not be restored in some areas (like at our home) for another 14 days. We are all just pulling together and figuring out the best way to stand together. Local churches are simply grilling hot dogs and giving them out. We are just making sure neighbors are alright. I am thankful that many of my friends have family where they can go.
We are only beginning to assess the needs in our own community. Currently, we can’t even get there to know what else they might be without. It is starting by being neighborly. Neighborhoods are camping out and working together to pool resources. My husband stopped by our street today and gave away food we didn’t need to those around us. It’s as simple as knowing we have not been abandoned or forgotten. We can’t be swept up by the massive effort it will take to come to the other side of this. There is one bigger than all of us who remains in charge.
It is a time that we are learning once again what is most important. It is about family. It is about pulling together. It is about remembering who Christ is. It is about not giving up hope even though it feels like it might be “gone.” He is still here.
On a practical note what can you do?
- Pray. We need to know we are supported and loved. I have been thankful for friends, acquaintances and family that have checked in on us. It has felt so much less surreal to have others just checking in.
- Keep checking in: It feels like we are living in a bubble. We have one friend with power and so that is how I am able to send this to you. However, except for the radio we have not been able to see the world around us. People are wandering around devastated. We need to know that although the world has moved on, and the winds have died down, you still care we are here.
- Know there are levels of need: Some have lost everything. Others have lost some. On a practical note those who live paycheck to paycheck can’t get to work . Everything remains closed. While the emergency agencies are handing out food and water, everyone will take a while to get back together.
- Give Locally- Instead of “nationally.” Do you know a church in NY/NJ that you can send money to? They are on the ground and able to truly able give out to individual needs. We at our ministry at Aslan Youth Ministries, have families in three of the areas that are hurting desperately. We have not been able to update the website. If you would like to help you can donate at www.aslanyouth.org. Please make the gifts to general funding. This gives ministries the opportunity to meet the greatest points of need.
- Give money and gifts for Christmas. One of the ways we work with our families at Aslan is to collect Christmas presents for them. Many are going to be starting from scratch. Make a way to give a Christmas.
- Plan a Spring Break Trip or Summer Trip to help people in the area. This clean-up is going to take A LONG TIME. Along with that we have winter nipping at our heels it may take some time. Take the time now to pull a time together to come our way and serve. Even if you help run a day camp for local children it is a practical way of helping.
Again know that we are more than surviving here. Pictures are not doing anything justice. They seem so small. Still when we look around it seems like there is not a place that isn’t “broken.” More than that we are amazed at all those that are working to serve in every way. There is no way to small to help…