When you don’t live in Miami every hurricane you hear about is terrifying, especially if someone you know lives in its path. It’s a valid concern. Hurricanes are devastating and unpredictable storms that cause incalculable destruction. But as I’m learning from living among those who have been in South Florida their whole lives, not every hurricane was created equally and not every term we use to describe a hurricane should evoke unrestrained panic. To those who don’t live in coastal areas, every term thrown around packs a huge threat. Phrases like, “Hurricane force winds,” “Cat 3,” “Storm surge,” “Eyewall,” and others all sound scary to the uninitiated.
On the other hand, the phrase “Hurricane force winds,” could mean 75 miles-an-hour or 175 miles-an-hour. That is a big difference. To know how you should respond to the phrase “storm surge,” you need more information. It will cause damage either way, but three feet is very different from 25 feet.
Despite the threat of hurricanes in South Florida, I’ve been curious to discover, after living here for two years, that many of the people who live in Miami are less fearful of hurricanes than I expected. Most people will say something like, “Yeah, they’re scary, but you know they’re coming, you can prepare for them, and most of the time you can get out of the way.”
Seasoned veterans of hurricanes understand how to respond to these phrases, so when the governor issues a “mandatory evacuation order” and the path of the storm is clear, most people understand the severity of the situation. On the other hand, if the news says, “Shelter in place,” you might prepare for a scary night, but your concern is considerably lessened.
Shelter in place means, there’s danger out there, but if you’re responsible and stay inside, you’ll most likely be safe.
When we read in Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower, the righteous run to it and are safe.” I think we’re reading a message like what’s meant by “Shelter in place.” We are to be in the world, but not of it. Our faith is not an escapist’s. God has not issued a mandatory evacuation order from on high calling us to get-out-of-dodge, instead, He’s set up fortified protection for the believer so that we can stay in the fray.
In Matthew 7:24-27 we see a hurricane encroaching upon a couple houses. One was built by a foolish man, and it was put on sand. The other by a wise man who saw clearly to dig a little deeper down to the rock below and secure the foundation on something more solid. When the winds and rains came and beat against the houses, the one built on the rock stayed. When Jesus shared this story in the Sermon on the Mount, He was telling everyone that He was the rock upon which we can build our life.
In this life we will have troubles, but God is a fortress, a strong tower, a solid foundation and when we build our lives on Him, we can shelter in place.
We have a lot of sandy beaches in Miami – it’s why so many of our relatives from out-of-town want to stay at our houses on their vacations. Sand is awesome for vacationing. But when the news starts naming storms in mid-May remember not to build your house on it. Instead, build your house on the Rock and as Psalm 91:1-2 says, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”