At Low Tide
When Hurricane Sandy hit our home (on whatever day that was), I was asleep with earplugs crammed deep into each side of my head. We all decided to go to bed once the electricity went out about 8 PM. The next morning we awoke to a chilly, un-electrified house. From what I could determine, our home, and those in my neighborhood, were spared. There were trees and wires down everywhere, but most of the houses were intact. The rain had not been that bad; even our basement was dry. In fact, the portion of ceiling that usually leaks when we get a driving rain never proffered a drop of water. There was one tree down in my yard, but with the aid of a floor jack and my Jeep, I was able to get it up off the lawn and re-planted. I lost about 8 shingles off my roof, but wouldn’t you know it, I had exactly 8 shingles in my garage and was able to make a repair in about 30 minutes or so.
Hurricane Sandy, I surmised, wasn’t that bad. Once again, the media over-hyped the weather report.
I jumped into the car and drove down to the beach front. It soon became apparent that my assessment of the storm’s intensity and destruction was askew. It pained me to admit it, but the media had gotten this one right (it was bound to happen eventually). Sections of boardwalk were flipped over, mountains of beach sand covered the roads, buildings were collapsed (or missing), and piers that once jutted into the Atlantic Ocean for decades, and through countless storms, were no more. I snapped pictures until the battery in my camera went dead, jumped in the Jeep, and drove home.
Again I thought to myself, it wasn’t that bad. After all, much of what was lost could be characterized as extracurricular entertainment — the boardwalk, the piers with their roller coasters and fishing facilities, the food concessions and games, all of it for our amusement. These businesses would all, in due time, recover, I concluded. They would likely come back better than before. And a lot of the homes that were damaged or destroyed, well, these folks are wealthy; they all have insurance, and eventually they would all be restored.
I went home to my family and dark house where we prayed and played board games until the electricity came back on about a week later. No TV, no internet.
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14)
When the power eventually was restored and I was able to get back online, I began to witness the relief effort that was going on all around me. Honestly, I was shocked. I kept thinking, What for? With the exception of millions of people not having electricity, there really wasn’t much need for relief.
I soon learned that our church joined in the effort. A church from Pennsylvania was coming to join forces with us, and together we were going to join forces with a church in a place called Highlands, NJ. I knew the area. It was misnamed, because there is nothing high about it. This small, bay front community is about 10 feet above sea level. I wasn’t sure why we were going there, after all, I had seen the damage in other areas, and it didn’t seem so bad, but nevertheless I prayed and I went.
As we drove our cars down the hill into the Highlands, the devastation was immediately apparent. The folks had already begun the process of cleaning up and the curbs were filled with garbage.
But wait. This garbage was different.
On both sides of the street; every street, piled has high as a person could throw a wet blanket, were the personal belongings and contents of the citizens of Highlands. Their furniture, their clothes, their appliances, their mattresses, their toys, their walls, their baby pictures, their rugs, their floors, their insulation, their blood, their sweat, their tears.
What in hell happened here?
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth (John 16:13)
As far as I could tell, not one home was spared. The first floor of practically every single home (and most homes were only one level) were flooded out. The water had long since receded, but in every direction there was ruin. Even the church we were partnering with lost everything on their first floor. But as God would have it, this turned out to be a blessing, because as soon as it was emptied and gutted, it was filled with relief supplies for the community.
I spent the next few days here helping residents empty their homes of all their possessions, pulling down sheet rock, and pulling up floors, in order that they might be able to rebuild when their insurance checks came in; if they had insurance that is. Not all of them did. You see, Highlands is not such a highfalutin kind of place. Most who live here are middle-to-very-low income families. Not all; there are some higher-end condos closer to the water’s edge, but the majority of the folks in Highlands are struggling to make ends meet. In most instances, Sandy came in and stole all they had.
This was the case in most of these communities along the coast: complete ruin. I had no idea. So sad, but these people did not need our tears.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because there is a great need here and the need will continue for months. Oh not just in Highlands, NJ, but in every shore town that Sandy touched. I figured you may not be aware. I thought that because I live here and I didn’t even realize how bad it was. Less than 3 miles from my house, people were putting out to the curb everything they own, and I was oblivious to it. Thousands upon thousands of homes and lives were destroyed, and I thought to myself, “Gee, Sandy wasn’t so bad.”
As it turns out, I did one thing right — I prayed.
While I didn’t understand the scope of the problem initially, I prayed for people who may be suffering loss. Despite my ignorance, God answered those prayers and changed me. God woke me up to the reality of the situation and in the process made me an effective tool in His hand. Had I not prayed at all, the likelihood is that I would have sat in my warm and happy home unconscious to the needs around me. Because of God, through prayer, something better occurred. Oh, it wasn’t much, but it was something. Without the prayer, it would have been nothing. Yesterday I helped a guy named Eugene gut his home. Today, as my aching back heals a bit, I write to exhort and encourage you to pray.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21)
What will your prayer do?
I do not know specifically, except to say, that if your prayers are sincere, God will change you in some manner. Maybe all God will do is make you a prayer warrior. Maybe He’ll make you a helper or a giver. Maybe He’ll get you moving in an entirely different direction altogether. The reality is that nothing will change until you pray. And consider the notion that if you’re reluctant to pray, maybe the underlying problem is that you are not submitted to the change God wants to do in you. Stop saying that you hate change and pray.
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
Please pray for the victims of Sandy and wait for the change in you. If you want to help in some small or big way, first pray.
- All Hands Fire Equipment Announces Hurricane Sandy Assistance, Volunteer and Donation Resources (prweb.com)
- Hurricane Sandy Victims: Disaster Relief Programs You May Not Know About (dailyfinance.com)
- 5440fight Exclusive: Sandy Struck Vet Denied Help by Obama’s Fema (5440fight.com)
- Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath (slate.com)
- Top 10 Most Compelling Sandy Hurricane Photos (theepochtimes.com)
- Jewelry & Reading Deals + Sandy Relief (brighdesbrightheart.wordpress.com)
- As N.J. comes down from calamity, rebuilding begins in Sandy’s wake (nj.com)