2017-09-26 - Reprieves
Our family recently lived through Tropical Storm Irma. While we were thankful to not have to deal with the full-blown hurricane, a Tropical Storm can bring plenty of excitement on its own - as many of you know. Several days before the storm arrived, the National Weather Service and local emergency agencies prepared our area. Some of the Sheriff's Departments were diligent about updating us regularly. Our forecast for our county included the possibility of life-threatening floods and winds that could bring down trees. In fact, that turned out to be true. Most of the deaths in our state were from trees downed by the straight-line winds. They were harrowing! Instead of the usual one-time straight line of a Summer storm, we had many hours of continuous 60 mph gusts. I had never before seen the trees bowing to the ground (another devotional perhaps!). It was a nervewracking day, but to use one of our least favorite phrases, for us, "it could have been worse!" We were very thankful our house held up to the Tropical Storm force winds all day long.
We were told ahead of time, to be prepared to be without power for at least a week; thus we bought plenty of batteries, peanut butter and other foods that it wasn't necessary to heat.
But our most dire threat was that of tornadoes. Normally, with a Summer thunderstorm, we might have a Torcon of 2, which means a 20% chance of an isolated tornado. But this time, we were projected to be on the East side of the hurricane, which is normally the most dangerous side, because in our hemisphere (Northern), the East winds are moving in the same direction as the storm system itself. The math for that involves this that wind speed + storm movement speed = the accumulative effect, on what some meteorologists call the dirty East" of storm systems. We were on this East side of Irma, so with the intensity of this storm, we were given a Torcon of 8, which meant that we had an 80% chance of a tornado, thankfully a rare event. By nature, Richard and I tend to be well-prepared, anyway. But the authorities also continued to warn us all of preparing a safe place (the real, serious kind), which would be the most impervious to wind damage. In a Ziplock bag, I placed medical papers and "Final wishes" info for Richard, myself and our dog Shiloh. Richard's job was to be to hold on to Shiloh for dear life, while I did the same with my purse that contained the papers. I even used a purse with a strap I could hang over my arm, to try to ensure that in the case of death, the purse was on my body. We were as prepared as one can be for such an event. We knew we had a rough day ahead on Monday. Before going to bed, I checked our latest weather advisory one last time. It read as follows:
Wind damage: Increased risk to life.
Say what? When I first read that last line, I thought they had sent us someone else's advisory, so I checked again. Nope, it was for our area. I read it several times, but I couldn't believe my eyes. I was giddy! Wee had a reprieve from tornadoes! We would later find out what a miracle this reprieve was: A cool wedge of air had met up with a hurricane and prevented tornadoes. Our preferred weatherman, who had been a meteorologist for 35 years, had never seen this happen. In fact, he said that it is so rare that he may write a paper on it. We considered it our miracle reprieve. We escaped Irma not only with our lives, but we had power back on after a couple days, and due to preparation ahead on trees, we lost only some limbs. We were very thankful to have a tornado reprieve.
In like manner, Ephesians 2:4-5 tells us that God has given us a reprieve on our eternal punishment of our sins.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (NASB)
Side note: Even though our family has fully recovered from Irma's effects on our personal lives, we have not forgotten those who were hit harder, as well as the victims of other disasters. Please especially lift up in prayer the people of Puerto Rico. The President has already released federal FEMA help via a declaration of disaster, but per their governor, because of the dire circumstances of their demolished island and their inability to function normally in this situation, they need a reprieve of their own - from Congress' normal restrictions on disaster money. Please keep praying about this situation and all the victims of serious storms, earthquakes and wildfires. Thank you.
I encourage you to join me in asking God what our part is, in helping those in need.
All verses are from the New American Standard Version (NASB) unless otherwise noted.