The smells were all too familiar…
Anyone who had anything to do with the cleanup of hurricane Katrina or were anywhere in the vicinity for that matter, can tell you stories of the rotten fragrance that consisted of mold, old food, and sewage water. I thought we had learned all the lessons that we needed from that disaster.
Isaac was only a Category 1. To us in Louisiana that means fire up the grill, invite some friends over, and enjoy the days off from work and school. For most of us evacuating is a gamble of sorts. The goal is to be the guy who stays home and has nothing happen to them and then make everyone feel stupid for traveling that far away for nothing. It’s a fun game. My 78 year old neighbor, Mr. Merlin, is a pro at this game. (He stayed during Katrina.) When I got home from what I thought was evacuating, Mr. Merlin, who is always wearing a white button down dress shirt, boxers, white socks, and NOTHING ELSE (risky business style), yelled from down the street “good call going to Laplace Smith (with an old man laugh)…should have listened to old Merlin.” I replied through my teeth, with a smile and a wave, “you should have stayed on your meds old man!”
Besides Mr. Merlin in his undies Hurricane Isaac exposed a lot for me.
It exposed selfishness
This concept of dying to self or denying yourself that’s found in scripture (Luke 9:23) is super easy to regurgitate and theorize over, until things don’t go our way. Natural disasters have a way of bringing our true selves out. Whether it’s complaining about not having power for a few days or thinking your situation is worse than anyone else’s, it is all at its core selfishness. I’m guilty!
It exposed pride
(Proverbs 16:18) It’s a guarantee that when pride gets into the picture a fall of some sort is coming. It’s crazy that as my parent’s house was beginning to flood and the water was rising the only thing I could think about was that I didn’t want to be one of those people who was on TV being rescued because I had an “image” to protect. Pride says I know better than a storm or it will never happen to me or says things like I would never be so dumb to live there. I learned a lot about pride from standing in waist deep water on a street that never floods.
It exposed community
I wonder some times why it takes a disaster for neighbors to talk to each other. One thing that stuck out to me in the days following Isaac was that people were outside up and down the street talking with each other, checking on each other, and helping each other. To love our neighbor (Mark 12:31) is again one of those ideas that is a lot easier to put on a bumper then to actually do. It’s hard for me to love the widow next door because she is nosey and constantly tells me that my grass needs to be cut. Who’s with me?? Anyone?? I know it’s terrible. Love (1 Corinthians 13) is laid out for us clearly. You can’t do “christian” activities without love or they are worthless. Too often we are like noisy cymbals clanging together without love, until we are forced outside of our walls. As cooky as Mr. Merlin is I love him. I honestly want to love all my neighbors and I don’t have to wait for another disaster to get started.
It exposed resilience
Most disasters show us that we can handle much more than we think. In perspective it makes the things that we are normally overwhelmed with in our day to day seem a bit foolish. New Orleans is a perfect example of both sides of this. We can bounce back from the worst natural disaster in the U.S. and in the same breath state how we’re not sure how we will make it through the week after a Saints’ loss. After seeing my parents bounce back from 3 battles with cancer, and watching how they are currently dealing with the restoration of their home, I want to fight through the pettiness of a few of my own “disasters.”
Hurricane Isaac exposed many other things for me as well, but all in all I know that God is working all things together for good (Romans 8:28). We can rest in His faithfulness that disasters like hurricane Isaac fall within the parameter of ALL THINGS. That means that in any circumstance good is the result for those who love God and are called according to His will. It doesn’t mean that it will be easy, it doesn’t mean that we will fully understand it all, but He is faithful and He will do whatever He needs to in order for us to be exposed and find everything we need in Him.