Hebrews 11:24-25 ďBy faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaohís daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.Ē
I live just a couple of miles from one of the bridges leading to Cape Cod.† That means that last weekend I spent a good bit of time bracing for and then living through the noríeaster that was Hurricane Noel.† In my neighborhood we got off pretty easy.† We lost power for about an hour and there were some large limbs and broken fences in various yards; but as far as I could tell there was no major damage here.
What struck me (not literally!) were the differences in preparation for the storm.† There were some, like me, who chose to prepare for the worst.† We put all our outdoor furniture indoors, weighted down what couldnít be brought in, took down bird feeders, and hid away trash cans and other small objects that could become projectiles and do damage in a major windstorm.† Others chose to do absolutely nothingónot even securing the inflatable Halloween decorations that were still up in many yards.† I chose to do extra work to prepare for the worst, they chose to leave things be and hope for the best.† None of us could turn the storm away, but all of us had choices in how to respond.
That is a major life and faith lesson, I think.† The storms of life will come.† For some reason they not only come regularly, but in bunches.† Itís never just one thing.† Just when you get the bad medical news, you also discover that your spouse is cheating on you, your kid is flunking math, and your companyís board has just voted out your pension.† Itís usually rain AND wind AND lightning strikes.† Donít ask me why, thatís on my list of things to ask God someday, but Iíve seen it and experienced it enough to know that it happens.
Those storms will come, to faithful and unfaithful alike.† We canít stop them and often we canít even predict them.† But we certainly can decide how we will respond to them.† We can drop faith like a hot-potato because we think God should protect us better.† We can fall on our knees and pray.† We can look for ways to connect and share with others in pain.† We can focus on picking up our mess.† We can ignore our mess and pull the covers over our heads.† We can take measures to protect ourselves from future disasters like it.† We can take our chances that lightning wonít strike twice in the same place.† We can look at the carnage and search for opportunity.† We can become bitter.† We can turn to determination.† We can give in.† We can fight.† We can ask for help or decide to reach for our own bootstraps.† The choices are endless and not-necessarily clear-cut.
But we do have choices. †And it is in the making of those choices and our acceptance of the consequences of those choices that our soul-purifying fire is kindled and our faith is forged.† Maybe we recognize a mistake in a prior choice we have made. †We still have choices.† Do we admit it?† Do we learn from it?† Do we share it in order to help others learn from it?† Do we beat ourselves up for the next 20 years because of it?† Do we ask forgiveness?† Those choices are the stuff of life and become the stuff of faith if we make them while clinging to the hand of God.† It is our responses, not the storms, that make or break the world.
Give us wisdom, God, that we may make life-giving choices in the storm. Amen.
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