Tropical storm Cristóbal discovered the Americas on June 3 with pillaging winds of up to sixty mph: in all likelihood a harbinger, like its historical namesake, of a ransacking soon to follow! The brunt of Cristóbal’s force made landfall north of us in Campeche, Mexico, but heavy rains and winds still lashed us here, downing trees and limbs and showing up flawed workmanship in buildings where all had previously seemed well. Small rivers ran under the trim on the girls’ dorm windows, and a telltale puddle, decorated with leaves and other tree droppings dominated the center of the cafeteria floor. In the false ceiling above, a row of stained panels dripped like sopping sponges. On the roof I discovered that the wind had blown out the ridge-cap seals. Short screws were the culprits for the technical failure, as they had anchored only to the sheet metal. I found some longer screws and fastened the ridge cap to the rafters, making sure the foam seals were securely sandwiched between. Next, I took down the ceiling panels, cleaned, dried and repainted them. While they dried, I decided to install hurricane clips where each purlin and rafter meet. As I worked, I thanked God for this relatively little storm that showed up our substandard workmanship and weaknesses that need attention: all the places where we need to shore up the breach and fill in the gap. We need every chink of character daubed with pitch, sealed to ride out the coming tempest. Oh, and Lord, please remind us to use the long screws.
Exactly three months later, we spent all day, Thursday, September 3, preparing campus for the arrival of hurricane Nana which was scheduled to hit Belize early in the morning. Clint and Shaw helped me take down a dangerous tree leaning over our house, and then I helped a crew of boys put extra screws in the sheet metal of every roof on campus while others took down all the recently erected shade cloths and greenhouse screens. After all that, Nana made landfall several hours to the south and quickly degraded to the status of tropical storm, hardly sparing us a drop of rain! One might lament our effort as wasted, but instead I thank God, not only for the small storms that hit, but also for those that merely threaten, for now we have a jumpstart on preparing for the big one, whenever it might come.
Today, October 6, hurricane Delta, a dangerous category four, is skirting our coasts, destination Cancún it seems, then perhaps Louisiana. Maybe this time we won’t need to take down all the greenhouse plastic.
The truth is, we can never afford to stop preparing, working, storing up, warning, imploring, pleading, plugging, and sealing up, for the fury of the coming storm is neither category four nor five, but triple six, to be followed by the perfect storm, the storm to end all storms! How can we rush out to tell the neighbors and expect them to believe us if our children are playing in the yard and we haven’t even boarded our windows? Yes, our trust must be in God, for our best preparations are nothing against the approaching gale, but the Lord has given us clear instructions, and if we really trust Him, like Noah, by God’s grace we will do all He has commanded.
Lord Jesus, be my foundation! Take my heart and mind today as your dwelling place. Cleanse me as you did your temple of old. Stand in my courts today and teach your holy precepts. May your acts of love and mercy be manifest in me today! Measure me. Break down my unsightly and unneeded walls and build new ones that will enlarge this habitation. Expand and widen my heart that more of Your Spirit may abide here. Oh, Master Builder, reform and remodel this crooked, sagging, condemned building of my soul! Inspect me now and fit me to pass the coming inspection! Thank you for every storm that shows all the substandard workmanship of my own devising – all the leaks, all the weak points. I want to work along your lines today. I submit to You my plans, my will. Teach me to repair the breach and restore the paths to dwell in (Isa 58:12). Oh Jesus, my Covered Bridge, my Refuge and my Road, every phase of Sanctuary, guide me safely home I pray!