Wednesday, October 12

Learning as I go

Last week I learned a lesson from an unlikely source: the weather.

I live in the southeastern United States, in that part that's sometimes called the mid-Atlantic, so last week's weather news was dominated by Hurricane Matthew. Perhaps you followed the course of Hurricane Matthew yourself.

Let me put it like this: Hurricane Matthew was not at all what I was expecting.

Weekend before last, I was filled with excitement but also with trepidation. Here's why.

I love to travel, but one part of the world I'd never visited was the Caribbean. My husband has to make a trip to the Caribbean once a year for the meeting of a board on which he serves, so I was delighted when I was invited to accompany him on his trip this year. I'd had my ticket for weeks and had really been looking forward to the trip. Even though Jack would be working most of the time we were there, we were anticipating having some time to enjoy the sights and to relax on the beautiful beach. But yes, you guessed it: our trip was exactly the week that Hurricane Matthew was wreaking havoc in the Caribbean.

Weekend before last, my husband and I were spending our time watching the weather forecasts, wondering if the trip would be cancelled, worrying if it would be safe to go, wondering if we'd be able to travel, worrying that our flights would be cancelled, wondering if I should just stay home where it was safe. Wonder, worry, wonder, worry.

You know what happened? They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here's one:

That's the view from our hotel room. It looked the same all three days we were there. We were in the Cayman Islands, and the hurricane passed hundreds of miles to the east of us.

The only clouds we saw seemed to be there just for our enjoyment, like in this sunset one evening:

Or on another evening:

Our travel went off without a hitch. Jack's meeting went very well, and I enjoyed some time to rest. While other parts of the Caribbean were experiencing horrifying weather, we were enjoying nearly perfect weather. We gave thanks for our blessings and prayed for those less fortunate, especially for the people in Haiti, the Bahamas, and Florida.

I have to admit, though, even though we'd had no issues with the weather at all, it was good to get back home, safe and sound in our city far from the Atlantic shore. Do you know what I mean?

Then Hurricane Matthew took an odd turn, and this past Saturday, here's what we faced all day long:

All through the afternoon and evening, my phone shrieked at me, warning me of the danger of flash floods. To be honest, I didn't need the National Weather Service warnings about that. Just a couple of blocks from my house, this was the scene:

I'm very happy to tell you that the waters receded quickly after the rain finally stopped. Although we lost power for some time, our home was not threatened. We are grateful.

But isn't it ironic that we worried so much about traveling to the place that we thought would be in danger from the storm, only to face danger after we were back home, seemingly safe and sound?

I can't stop thinking about how this weather situation is a metaphor for much of my life. So many times I would worry, worry, worry about things that never came to pass. And so many other times I would feel perfectly safe and in control when actually there was danger at hand.

Here's the thing: I know the truth in my head, but sometimes it doesn't make its way down to my heart.

The truth is that I'm not in control, I've never been in control, and I never will be in control. I do what I can to try to keep myself and my loved ones safe and well, but there's no predicting what dangers may lurk in this fallen world.

And yet I am safe, because the dangers of this fallen world are not the whole story. The whole story belongs to God, who created this world and is sustaining it through His grace. The whole story is summed up in the love of God in Jesus, from which we can never be separated, no matter what dangers we face (Romans 8:28). The whole story acknowledges that, although outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day (II Corinthians 4:16).

I know these truths. You know these truths. Of course we know them. But I for one struggle with keeping them fixed in my mind and spirit.

As much as I hate to think about it, the truth is that a storm may sometime destroy my home. A tragic accident may kill my loved ones. Sickness may take my life. I do not know what the future holds, and I cannot control it. But as my friend Dallas Willard used to say, I am "an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God's great universe."

Of all things, this episode of weather helped to move the truth from my head to my heart.

I learn as I go, and I am grateful for the reminder that I belong to God. Whatever happens, I am safe and well with Him.

Have you learned any lessons from an unlikely source lately? I'd love to hear what you've learned!

*Note: Want to know how you can best help those who did suffer the ravages of Hurricane Matthew? Here's a link to Vi Bella, a good and godly organization on the ground in Haiti
where your donations can be put to excellent use.*


  1. A beautiful post, Richella...and so true. Your photos of your time in paradise are just stunning. So glad you are flooding here but we did lose power Saturday night during that torrential downpour for about 10 hours. Matthew was certainly unpredictable :(

  2. Rochelle, I recognized that as the Grand Cayman Ritz immediately. GCM is our favorite place in the world to be for relaxing and scuba diving. So happy your worries faded and Allis now sertled, but yes, it was a stressful week back here in the states. My sister evacuated from Beaufort, returned yesterday full of anxiety as to what she'd find....only to find electricity the only thing disturbed! It's our nature, I suppose, to worry, but that same worry always leads me to let go and let God at some point. For that faith, I am forever grateful.

    1. Richella, so sorry that my phone take it upon itself to overrule my typing, in this case your name being misspelled in the prior comment.

  3. Rita, you are so kind! I have a love-hate relationship with my phone's autocorrect. My name is definitely not a word that a phone would recognize!

    I am glad that your sister's place is undisturbed. I'm hoping that such is the case for many, many people who were evacuated. And yes, that spot on Grand Cayman is just beautiful. I was so tickled that I got to see it.

  4. Such a thoughtful post and such a great reminder that the Lord has it all in His hand and He knows what is next. I am so glad you were safe on both fronts

  5. So glad that your trip came off without a hitch and so thankful the He has the whole world in His hands even when we have worries and wonders!

  6. Yes, such a fitting metaphor (and what a gift that time in the Caribbean must shave been). Praying for the people of Haiti and everyone who was in Matthew's path.

  7. Thanks so much for hosting the party, and I'm excited to have something to share!

    I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time in the Caribbean, Richella. I'm not only happy for you, but I'm also happy and relieved that Hurricane Matthew left the Caymans niece and her family live there (she's an Event-Catering Planner for one of the hotels there, and her mom and I were nervous when Matthew started brewing up some steam! I feel so bad for the people of Haiti and those in our country who have been so devastated by this storm....always in my prayers.

    Warm hugs,

  8. I was worried about you on your trip! And like you, I was worried about your trip home not ONCE you were home! Thankful you are safe. Great post!

  9. Your story about perfect weather in the Caribbean but horrible weather at home is such a great example of why we should cease trying to be in control. Alas. I worry and wonder in that same cycle myself, even though I don't it's irrational. Praying to continue to improve, and I have seen progress over the years, thanks to the Spirit's help. Glad you had a wonderful trip after all!

  10. Oh Richella so glad your home was safe! Our family is Eastern NC is dealing with after effects of flooding- well after the hurricane passed and they thought they were out of the woods!! It's a good lesson in trusting the only one who holds everything in this world in the palm of His hand and also not to rely on our own self confidence too much! We need Jesus every single moment! Thanks for sharing and be blessed friend!

  11. Oh Richella! I'm so glad you were able to enjoy such beauty on your vacation. Those views are breathtaking! And yes, I totally agree, we are not in control. These days, especially in our current political environment I'm reminding myself that He is in control and I the more I let go and allow him to take on my worries and stress, the better I will be. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Wow, my dear! I am so glad you guys are all OK and not too affected by the storm. And mostly, since everything turned out alright where you live, I'm so glad you got to enjoy those wonderful days in the Caribbean! So beautiful. :)

  13. The future does belong to God! Sometimes, when hard circumstances arise, my head and my feelings go into total disconnect. For a little while anyway. Then I remember that He hears my prayers before they are uttered.

    I loved seeing your vacation pics on IG and I'm glad you had such a wonderful trip before the storm at home.

    You are a blessing Richella :)



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