I just watched online videos of a tiny New Jersey city going offline, bathed with mud and fury by the mightier-than-usual Ramapo River. I was raised in Oakland, an unpretentious town in the northern Garden State. As I write, it's raining for about the 11th straight day since Hurricane Irene breezed through. That was only a few days after an earthquake shook 29 states. When I hear of floods, I think about my little house on a little plot of land on a little street next to a little river. I watched many a flood flow by the back yard and into the homes of those on lower ground.
The winter floods were more "fun" because huge blocks of river ice floated by like miniature icebergs. To a kid with no responsibilities, this was exciting. To a family with a Super 8mm movie camera, this was theater. To residents of the riverside resort area called "The Colony," this was disaster.
Now that I'm a homeowner, I'm concerned about floods, fires, falling fir trees, and finances. I no longer have a Dad who can take care of these problems while I play with toys or look on with childish wonder and a Polaroid Swinger in my hand. When things fall on the house, the responsibility to fix or finance them falls on me.
Storms are indiscriminate. They don't care when they show up or whom they blow down. At least, most of the time they announce themselves beforehand so you can prepare.
Earthquakes are not that considerate. They come without warning so you can't prepare. Until science invents a time machine or crystal ball, we'll never know for sure what's coming to get us above or below the ground.
Although it's true I no longer have an earthly Dad to watch over me, I do have a heavenly Father Who cares for me. He doesn't need a time machine; He's the Father of eternity (Isaiah 57:15). He has no need of a crystal ball; He sees all (Isaiah 46:10). The Father doesn't lose sleep over storms; He brings them (Psalm 107:25) and calms them (Psalm 107:29). God is unmoved by earthquakes because He laid earth's foundations (Psalm 104:5). The Lord doesn't need homeowner insurance or bank loans because He owns all the world's wealth (Haggai 2:8). When the bible says we should be casting all our anxieties on him, because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7), we can bank on it!
Storms and earthquakes are not always physical. We have events in our lives that can saturate us and shake us up. God promises His children that He not only cares for us but will walk through the storms and quakes with us: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you" (Isaiah 43:2). The Lord doesn't say problems won't come--He says He will be with us through them to keep them from destroying us.
In light of the recent devastations wrought by tsunamis, tremors, and torrents, it is good to reflect on Jesus' warning about building your house on the solid stone instead of sandy soil (Matthew 7:24-27). The Living Stone says, "I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20).
Living without lights for four days after Irene, it was comforting to have the power back on. Jesus said, "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19). If you are living a dark and stormy night, come to the Light and be secure. Goodnight Irene, hello Immanuel!