Almost three years have passed since I noticed the problem. We stipulated the shed would remain when we put a contract on the house. It would serve as our garage, since the garage itself had been framed in and made into a bonus room. We need that shed. Because that is where we put all the “garage” stuff.
The problem…the shed could fly off into the hurricane at any moment. When I noticed that one of the cables that affixes the edifice to the ground had snapped, I made a mental note of the need to fix it. But nothing ever forced that thought into action. Until Hurricane Matthew. I knew I needed to fix it, and Thursday morning, the day Matthew was to hit Orlando, I headed over Ace Hardware to search for the solution.
Although I didn’t entirely know what to look for, I knew one thing, I needed cable. Stuff that was thicker than the last kind. The thing I didn’t know was what the little doohickey was that clenched the cable. I found those little doo-dads near the cable that the 80-year-old clerk had to climb to retrieve. Feeling a little uncertain of his dexterity, I offered to return the cable reel to it’s top shelf location. He obliged. I was ready to fix my problem.
Preparation is an interesting exercise, but the lack of preparation is an anxiety exercise. Preparing for Matthew meant putting everything outside in the yard into the shed. Yard furniture, swings, the kid’s bikes, birdhouses, flower pots…everything that could fly off and become a projectile. We had made a checklist, but even as we were getting ready for bed I was still thinking of things I should move or strap down.
I was mostly ready, but not entirely. Thus the anxiety. The uncertainty. How do you know if you are really prepared? Are there still things I could do? Yes. I didn’t strap the 60 pound bench in front to a tree. Oh well. I didn’t put the barbeque inside. Shame on me. But I readied the shed. I used the doohickey and cabled down that shed better than ever. Hopefully it will hold. Every bit of our outside stuff depended on that cable holding.
Still we could not really know what was going to hit us. Projection models positioned Matthew 10 miles off the coast with anticipated winds of 50-75 mph winds thrashing the Orlando area. All our preparations kept that in mind yet know knowing the outcome. Would we lose power? How long will it be out? Will we have running water? Will we have enough drinking water and food? Lots of uncertainty.
My wife and I put our kids into the one room that didn’t have windows, the bonus room. They had a hurricane party until 10 p.m. When we got into bed at 11 p.m. the wind hadn’t picked up. We prayed and asked God to protect us. And after that, all we can do it wait and trust. How could I go to sleep while wading in this uncertainty and anxiety? Oddly enough, this is where the preparation pays off. A verse came to mind.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.¹
I could go to sleep because my heart knows what my head sometimes forgets. God was my refuge and an ever-present help when I am in trouble. I could trust God would be my help in this trouble like He has been faithful to me in every difficult situation previously. Time has been spent preparing for years. Each time I read sentences in the Bible that tell me of God’s caring, loving concern over me, I try to hide that truth in my heart. Memorizing and meditating on those truths over years was the cabling that would hold me to the ground during the fiercest of storms. If I had not been depositing those truth into my heart all these years, the anxiety and uncertainty would certainly have been higher.
The preparation is the key. It’s investing into your future not knowing when the pay-off will happen. We try to prepare for our future financially. We prepare for our future by getting an education. If we fail to prepare, we will likely feel anxious, not knowing how things will turn out. But it seems we don’t prepare our heart spiritually for the future. But you can. There is a way to weather the storms that come to all our lives.
One of the major pay-offs of spiritual preparation is resilience. You never know when you arrive when it comes to resilience. You just know that you bounce back after you’ve been hit by the storm and are ok. All is still well. The debris is what it is, you have what it takes to pick up the pieces, and you can handle to next storm. A friend just wrote about this resilience and I admire what she wrote.
Hard things come. They do. But rarely is it as bad as our anticipation. Anxiety likes to puff-up catastrophe. It lies about resilience. But we are stronger than we think. We are far more resilient than we fear.
Storms come, but they always pass. And afterward, there is a beauty you can’t appreciate without having sat through the pounding wind and rain. I have more depth, more compassion, more kindness because of storms I have stood through. The world is richer and more inviting than it has ever been.
Isn’t experiencing the richness of the world with deeper compassion and kindness worth the effort to prepare your heart? I think it really is. It is a little more involved than going to Ace Hardware to be prepared, but it is worth the work.