Wednesday, August 27, 2008

God and Gustav: A Guest Blog

It was exactly three years ago today when Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast and left horrible destruction in her wake. Via a partnership our churches have with the Gulf Coast Association, we continue helping the people of Mississippi rebuild, and now it appears that yet another strong hurricane may very well hit that same area.

Of course,a lot can happen between now and 2 PM Monday. But at its current course, it will make a dead hit at Gulfport Mississippi and travel straight up Highway 49. Lot's of people are, understandably, upset and on edge, and regardless of how strongly you believe in Providence, such convictions are very difficult to apply in these kinds of situations. But I have a friend who seems to be doing a pretty good job at laughing in the face of Gustav, even if he does so with a lump in his own throat.

Unlike most of us who merely watched Katrina from afar, my friend Jack Allen actually lived through it. As such, when he speaks of God's sovereingty and goodness, he's not just waxing eloquent. He has applied such teaching in a very real way in the past. Jack teaches missions at New Orleans Seminary. He is a dear friend, and I asked his permission to share his latest thoughts with you.

As you are reading, pray for the people who live along the Gulf Coast. But more than anything else, pray that the faith of which you read in Jack's post will be present in even more people as this storm moves toward its mainland destination.

Can Gustav Get er Done? (Dr. Jack Allen)
I spent most of this morning doing a hurricane continuance plan for my students. I did this little marvel of strategic planning for several reasons.

(1) Because I love my students and I know that even if they are evacuated in the middle of the night to unknown shores because a terrifying storm is bearing down on their behinds, they will want to know what to read in their course textbooks.

(2) My students will need something to keep them busy so that their minds do not drift to thoughts of The Killer Storm, The Surge, The Flood, The Looting, or The Drowned Furniture (those all sound like great punk rock bands, don’t they?).

(3) The academic boss of bosses around here--Dr. Dallas Cowboy Lemke--told me to do it, and I want to be a joy to lead.

All that academic strategery aside, there are several people around here who confide in me that THEY ARE SCARED. Those of you who know me, I want you to imagine what level of terror might prompt someone to tell me that he or she is scared of the possibility of another hurricane hitting New Orleans. Was the counseling office closed? Maybe so, maybe they left town! I would sooner go to the checkout lady at Walgreens for a shoulder on which to whine than come to me. But, there they are, all five of them (now six) Facebooking, emailing, stopping me at the coffee shop, calling me for advice. My advice? GET OUT NOW! (Not really.)

It’s curious though. If that many people are asking me what to do, where to go, and if there can be any hope, it probably means that literally tens more are thinking of ending it all and moving to Jackson. Oh please, Lord, bring them to their senses.

Dude, I know you’re scared. Your wife admits, but you’re a Southern boy and think you’ll turn gay the instant you admit fear. You won’t. I’m a little bit scared, and I wear hardly any makeup at all.

You’d be a fool not to be a little scared. I went through Katrina. I lived apart from my students for a year, then apart from my wife and daughter for another year. I do not wish the loss of family time or grandmother’s antiques on anyone.

We prayed and prayed, for that storm to hit someplace it wouldn’t matter, like Lake Charles, but God had other plans. It was our turn to suffer, and we lived through it. In fact, for many of us, our faith grew more in the year or two after Katrina than it did the ten before. I see benefits from Katrina. I got new clothes and new furniture! I am significantly less tolerant of peoples’ junk than I was before the storm. Maybe that’s good. I am significantly more grateful for my wife than I was before the storm (she denies the last statement, but I know the truth), and that is very good. In many ways I am a better instructor now than I was before the storm.

So, I have a counterintuitive plan. I am challenging Gustav to finish what Katrina could not. Come on in brothah! I dare you. Bow up to Cat 5 and waltz right up the Mississippi. I do not care. You, Mr. Hurricane, cannot touch me, this city, or anyone in it without the express permission of your Creator. If He says to have a go at New Orleans, then fine. Otherwise, stop making people scared. We have better things to do with our time.

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