Several weeks ago, my family and I had taken a trip to Panama City Beach. It is a city that is located just shy of the location that hurricane Michael had torn through within the Florida panhandle. Panama City and Mexico Beach have experienced a devastating storm which has left people without power, homeless and broken. Unfortunatly, a few have also died. The Category 4 hurricane was the hardest to hit the area in recorded history.
Weeks ago, we had taken a very memorable trip to the area. The weather was perfect. The experiences were filled with peacefulness and joy. We had the opportunity to spend quality time together in a beautiful setting. The evening beach was simply breathtaking. My wife and I had the opportunity to sit under a crystal-clear sky by the water and observe several shooting stars. The kids used flashlights and searched for crabs that would hustle across the sand. I spent some time snorkeling and found a lot of seashells. Deep sea fishing, a fish fry and morning walks along the white sand beaches. Beautiful sunsets and sunrises. The memories are cherished, and the little reminders sit on a bookcase within our home.
Last night, we celebrated our daughter’s eleventh birthday. We had family and friends at our home. The traditional birthday cake, gifts and cards presented and various fun things. The girls had a candy-filled piñata that they had taken turns breaking open. We roasted hot dogs and made smores in an outdoor fire pit. The girls finished up their night doing their thing at their slumber party.
My wife, her father and myself sat and talked about many things as my wife’s mother painted the girls’ fingernails. We talked about how the recent storm had completely destroyed not only my mother-in-laws’ parent’s home in Panama City, but also the home of her stepmother’s ninety-something year old dad. The storm has leveled their lives. It has robbed them of their shelters, securities, belongings and planned tomorrows. The question of where they will be in the days ahead is currently hanging over them. Where they will be living, and how it will be acquired is unknown.
We sat and looked at the containers of seashells, and counted our blessings.
Along the coast, many are trying to figure out what their future will bring. They are observing the devastation. Their minds and hearts are filled with piercing emotion, uncertainties and worry.
Photo c/o Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images
Last weekend I watched a documentary about a woman who miraculously survived the Holocaust. She told her story of survival. It was a gut-wrenching thing to watch. If you desire to be humbled, watch documentaries about the unfathomable mass-extinction that took place during WW2 at the hand of an evil, inhumane freak named Hitler. The program filled me with sorrow. Empathy. It gave me a reminding perspective on just how great I have it. My problems and worries are truly minuscule compared to the woman’s of the documentary, as well as hundreds of thousands more affected by the war.
As I even sit here and write, my thoughts are taking me though many emotions. I think about how the times within my life have also been plagued by many dark and unbelievably painful seasons. Little in comparison to a hurricane or Holocaust survivor, but difficult within my personal experience. We have all battled our storms within life. My family and I had a few things to say last night as we talked about the storms that have occurred within our lives, and how the choices we had made had conditioned us into people filled with regrets, uneasiness and lots of pain. We all have our different way of dealing with painful things within our lives, and we all agreed that our relationship with the Lord is what has, does and will get us through.
We took a look around last night. We reflected and observed the comforts and pleasurable times within our family, and spoke of the pressing times that are plaguing my mother-in-law’s family. We saw that the good and the bad will always come, and unlike the storm in Florida, or the known future of those being exterminated in Europe, we sometimes do not see what tomorrow will bring. We anticipate pleasurable days ahead, full of peace and joy, but we cannot see the future. As we move into the day, the evening and even our unpromised, unknown tomorrows, may we all count our blessings. May we be reminded to never take any of our moments, or the many things within our lives for granted. I pray that you know that the Lord has a bigger plan that we may not understand, but that can be calmed by His presence.
May the link provided help you within your storm, and may the peace and hope found within a relationship with Jesus Christ be with you…