Hurricane Harvey: Reflecting Back
We've been a city on our knees these last few weeks since Hurricane Harvey for relief, hope and endurance -- especially as we now look to our Provider as the city begins its efforts to rebuild. As floodwaters recede, it’s stunning to see so much love and hope RISE! We have been so encouraged by the people within and around our community who are serving those in need of help. We've seen people rally behind one another—setting aside the politics, race, religion and rivalries-- to meet the needs of its people amidst terrible destruction and devastation. Romans 12:11 says to "never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." By serving the community, we are serving God. We pray that our zeal to help and serves others remains high throughout the coming weeks and months.
It has been unreal to experience first hand what the Body of Christ looks like in action. What it looks like to bear one another’s burdens and to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” as it says in Romans 12. Personally, this storm and aftermath have affected us deeply. One of our closest and dearest friends lost everything. It takes its toll on you seeing the devastation caused in families around our city.
As we navigate what's next for our friends and for our city, we ask God for His wisdom and strategy. We ask that He will carry our burdens, uncertainties and heartaches. We ask for discernment, endurance and tenacity to selflessly serve our community. God has made the people of Houston resilient, but we are desperate to be reminded that He works all things for His good (Romans 8:28).
"Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still." Psalm 107:28-29
"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Psalm 91:1-2
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10
Let us not forget that God is "our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble." Psalm 46:1
It's been a gift for Ellis and I, as parents, to be able to bring our kids alongside and involve them in serving while they were out of school for two weeks. Their hearts are SO big and want to help in any way they can too! Seeing these kiddos hop into action and want to serve just brings me to tears-- they are learning to focus on others, the difference between wants and needs and what the most important things in life are!
I’ve been personally transformed from the beautiful way the Lord uses pain, tragedy, loss, grief and suffering to get you to the end of yourself, where you being to humbly recognize the need for help, drawing you out of the crowd, stripping away broken parts of your life, refining you through horrific and difficult circumstances -- ultimately to bring you closer to Himself, restore your hurting soul, insert peace and make you more like Him. When you surrender, He WILL turn tragedy into triumph, brokenness into abundant wholeness, sadness into praise, your hurt into fullness of restoration and joy. Christ Jesus “majors” in carpentry – in building, construction (both old and new), AND reconstruction! No better one to ask for help as we rebuild hearts and lives of the people in this city! As the city beings to rebuild, we are corporately praying as a family and as a small business that it would be rebuilt on the rock-solid foundation of the never-shifting, never-crumbling, never-at-risk Lord God Almighty! Clinging to the truth of what God’s Word says. His providences and provision never cease, His promises always hold true, He our Refuge, our Shelter, He is the Rock Eternal and “underneath us are His everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27)
"Praise be to the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Continue to pray alongside us for the healing and the rebuilding of our beloved city and state.
I had planned a trip to North Carolina with some friends for the same weekend Harvey hit the Gulf Coast. We’d had this trip in our calendar for months. When we caught wind that a hurricane was coming, I counted my blessings and completely underrated the potential this storm had. I was in middle school and high school when Hurricanes Rita and Ike were projected to cause major destruction in the Houston area— leaving me skeptical of the weatherman’s ability to legitimately assume nature’s thought process. Surely this wouldn’t be too bad.
It’s an interesting thing when you’re far away when tragedy hits your home and community. You feel a sense of “survivor’s guilt” for not being available to help out. You feel this urgency to get back even though everyone else is telling you you’re better off being where you are. You want to see it for yourself because you can't fully comprehend everything you're seeing. You’re anxious to receive updates from friends and family. There’s sadness when you see the streets you grew up on and the streets you drive on daily in the news because they’re submerged in flood water. And just when you think there couldn’t be anymore emotion, you hear the Lord telling you to check your heart and motives for wanting to get back. Am I posting/helping/serving because I want to prove I’m sad/concerned or because I care about God’s people and how they can experience a merciful and loving Father in the midst of tragedy? I’d like to say the ladder was 100% my thought, but it wasn’t. The reality, as a friend of mine wisely challenged us with: The need of the person you are serving is infinitely more important than your need to feel useful.
1 Peter 1:12— "It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.”
On Labor Day, I had the opportunity to jump in with my church's efforts to help clean up devastated areas. It's a beautiful sight to see friends and strangers alike step up and get after it together. You've all heard it a million times that the city of Houston didn't just dip their toes in, they straight up cannon balled into relief efforts to get people back on their feet and into this new "normal." Prior to Harvey, we prayed often for opportunities to practice what we preach, for the church to truly know what it's like to be the hands and feet of Jesus. And now we're witnessing His faithfulness through the selfless service of His people.
James 1:22, 27-- "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."
God is on the move in Houston.
I was out of town visiting my parents when Hurricane Harvey struck Houston. I felt bittersweet about being gone. Relieved that I was safe and not trapped inside for days while rain overtook our city. On the other hand, I was desperate to be back in Houston to see if the news was accurately portraying what was happening.
Harvey brought devastation, destroyed homes, left people homeless and created chaos in already difficult times. In the midst of such turmoil, I find comfort knowing God is sovereign and that I will praise Him through this.
I wanted to show my support through serving. I have learned a lot about service and what it means to serve others with a pure heart. To give our time is to recognize that we are living for a greater purpose than our own selfish needs.
This is a long road ahead, and there is a lot of work to be done. As I busy myself with my own plans and selfish desires I reflect back to Mark 10:45:
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
I am constantly reflecting back on this verse as a reminder that I am called to serve others just as Jesus gave his life for us.
May we put our trust and hope in You alone-- not in ourselves, our circumstances or in the people around us. We pray for ENDURANCE as we run this race because we know it will be a while until it's over. These efforts of relief, rebuilding, and recovery are a marathon not a sprint! May we keep our eyes fixed on You (Psalm 27) in our greatest time of need and trust You in and out of the storm. We know You are faithful to strengthen the weary, give peace to the worried and bring hope to the hopeless. We are clinging to You to get us through! We ask for a deeper understanding of your love Lord, for an increase in patience, wisdom, grace, discernment and for a double portion of perseverance! Lord, may we never boast in ourselves, for we truly have nothing to offer. We are not in control of the weather as we have seen here in Houston. May we boast in you, the only Name that saves, the only Name that revives, rescues, for the desperate, the weak and the hurting.