September 22, 2003
The past week we had an unwelcome visitor at our home --
appropriately named Hurricane Isabel. As you may know, Isabel is a form of the
name Jezebel, wicked wife of King Ahab of Israel. The storm has generated a few
random thoughts that I would like to share with you.
By the storm reached our area, it was, statistically speaking,
fairly unimpressive. It had degraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm. It
had wind gusts of only 65 miles per hour (100 km per hour). Yet, despite this
meager statistical display, it all but shut down the metropolitan Richmond area
of close to one million people. I have about 5 large trees down in my yard. My
parents have about an even dozen down in their yard. Most of these trees are so
large you can't get your arms around them. We lost power on last Thursday night
and as of today, Tuesday, we still do not have power back on. This is true for
several hundred thousand people in the area.
It is amazing to me just how powerful nature is in the hands
of God. We sometimes fool ourselves into thinking how clever we are or how
powerful we are as humans. When we consider the force of a hurricane, the power
of a flood or the energy released by an exploding volcano, we can only stand
back in awe.
It is also very interesting just how vulnerable we all are.
The recent loss of the power grid in the eastern coast of North America is yet
another example of how fragile is our technological house of cards. Imagine the
chaos if many of the mishaps happened at once in a sort of domino effect. The
huge storm knocks out the power grid which causes a nuclear accident which...
you get the picture. I don't mention this to upset people or to be a predictor
of doom; the point is that we have to faith in something greater than technology
and man's ability to control everything. It doesn't take much. One lousy
tropical storm has created what will surely be billions of dollars of damage in
Another thing that this storm has brought to mind is the
nature of man. Events like those of the past week tend to bring out the best and
the worst in people. On the morning after the storm, most of the neighbors
around me checked on each other. The men got together and helped those who had
problems. We removed a tree that blocked one neighbor's driveway. We helped
another neighbor remove a tree that had toppled onto the top of his barn.
Strangers helped clear debris from the roads and get cars out of ditches.
Of course, there were also those people whose civility was
carried away by the hurricane. My parents' road was nearly impassable due to
downed power lines. As this was a main thoroughfare, people were having to drive
on the shoulder of the road to get past. The man whose house was in front of
this shoulder was out early blocking the path with debris from the storm so
people would not drive on the side of the road -- thus rendering the road
completely impassable. You also hear stories of price gouging and people arguing
over scarce resources such as ice.
One last thing that this storm brought to mind was just how
soft we have become. Now I am not pointing fingers at people when I say this.
After making sure our families and neighbors were okday, we took off for a hotel
at the beach to get to electricity, running water and telephone service. It made
me think about how just 200 years ago none of these conveniences would have been
disrupted, as they didn't have them anyway. These men and women of old knew how
to survive. They could make what they needed -- grow or kill what they needed to
eat. Today, if the Quickie Mart and Burger King are closed, we are in a heap of
trouble. It makes me wonder what will happen when the time spoken of by Daniel
comes to pass. "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which
standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble,
such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that
time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the
By God's grace, may we all be prepared for that Day -- not
with survivalist gear, but with the faith of Abraham.