Hurricane (Insert your name here)
By Mitch Todd
"Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD . . . and after the earthquake a fire . . .and after the fire a sound of sheer silence." (1 Kings 19:11-12, NRSV)
This is not a devotion about Hurricane Katrina or Gustav or Ike. It's about Hurricane Yours Truly. Hurricane Mitch.
In 1998, Hurricane Mitch swept across the Atlantic and killed more than 11,000 people. It was the most destructive hurricane in the Western Hemisphere in more than 200 years. And I shared the same name with that beast! That was a long summer for me — lots of folks making little "Hurricane Mitch" jokes and asking me why I was so destructive. I'll bet there are others reading this who have shared their name with a devastating storm like this. It's no fun!
Having the same name as a hurricane makes you think, though. It makes you ask questions, such as, "Are there other things I share in common with a hurricane? Are there ways in which I'm destructive?" I think back through my life; and yes, I've left some damage in my path. I have regrets about the ways I've mistreated people, walked over people, hurt people. Hurt myself.
What about you? Do you have any hurricane traits in you? When you lose your temper do you tend to mess with anyone who gets in your way? Are there times your actions or words do unnecessary damage? Or you may have a hurricane raging inside yourself, doing damage to the rest of you. That can happen when feelings and fears get pushed down and not expressed . . . then we lose control.
Most of us can think back to some hurricane times when we've hurt ourselves or others and have literally spun out of control. Those times happen when we're stressed, afraid, or backed into a corner. Hurricanes form when pressure mounts!
When you get to feeling that way, remember that God is with you. God is there, in that quiet place inside you, like the eye of a hurricane, urging you to be still. Hurricanes are forces of nature. Few become as destructive as Mitch or Katrina, but they are part of life on this planet. Humans have to stick together to overcome tragedies such as the one that has happened in New Orleans. We can't keep hurricanes from happening, but we can respond to them as children of God.
Human beings aren't just forces of nature, though. We are called to be forces of grace. We are tied in to God, connected to God's love. When human beings stick together and care for one another, we can greatly reduce the number of human hurricanes that get produced. We can find that inner peace that God grants us and learn to spin that out into the world instead of spinning out our fear and anger.
I hope that you will continue to pray for victims of Katrina this week and to fight the urge to become apathetic to such an overwhelming problem. UMCOR is collecting supplies for health kits if you would like to do something. But also this week, as life becomes stressful, as gas prices soar, and as people are a little bit more on edge, I invite you to provide some human hurricane relief as well: Find a kind word for your brothers and sisters. Take good care of yourself. Stay in touch with God through prayer and Christian community . . .
And if you know anyone named Katrina, give him or her a great big hug.