Thursday, June 4, 2009

So That Grace Might Prevail

She was not a lady.

Not by any stretch of the imagination. As a matter of fact, by the time she had done her dastardly deeds, she was often called by names that would not be very christian to mention. I'll just refer to her by her given name.


June first was the first day of hurricane season and it always causes me to think back to that fateful day of August 29th, 2005. Before that day, one could never imagine a hurricane destroying people, places, and things up to and beyond 100 miles inland, not to mention wiping out an entire coast line and drowning an entire city.

Coming up in New Orleans I could still hear my grandmother, my mother, and other relatives saying over and over again, "One day the big one will hit!" And did.

My mother, for some unknown reason, loved to track hurricanes and hurricane season never found her without a hurricane map usually provided by one of the local radio or television stations there in New Orleans. She also would jump in the car and follow a fire truck to the scene of a fire too, but I guess that is a story for another day.

I had aunts and uncles and cousins who lived in places like Buras and Venice and Port Sulfur, Louisiana. These are places south of New Orleans. If you can imagine that. Traveling south from New Orleans on Hwy 23, the Gulf of Mexico sits to the right of the road and the Mississippi River sits to the left. You could actually look up along side of the levees on either side of the road and see ships and barges passing by. Key words here being "look up".

Life there is below sea level. Way, way below.

My relatives lost many homes and businesses throughout the years, due to the hurricanes and they always went back and rebuilt. Sadly, during Camille we lost a first cousin. It was a full two months after the storm before they found him.

One week after Hurricane Katrina and by a series unusual and quite miraculous circumstances, my husband and I found ourselves in Times Square, NYC at the Doubletree Hotel. Upon checking in, I picked up our complimentary copy of USA Today. There on the front page of USA Today, standing in the middle of a pile of debris, that was once a home, was a cousin of mine from New Orleans! I had not seen her since we were children. Everything was gone, but they were all safe!

My dear sister, who lives on the Mississippi Coast, was in the hospital the day Katrina came to town. It was but a mere three days since she had had major abdominal surgery. Thanks to a morphine PCA pump, she slept right through the storm. She awakened that Monday evening, in a fog, to a dark, quiet and flooded room. Alone.

Not a nurse, doctor, or staff person to be found. She later learned that windows had been blown out throughout the hospital, and there was no power or water anywhere. Many of the patients had been pushed out into the hallway to protect them from the windows. Somehow, she had been over looked. She was "discharged" later that evening, to go home.

Her home, which is located 3 miles from the beach, got 3 feet of water in it from the storm surge. Simply put, it was quite a nightmare for her and her family.

But...she made it. I'm so thankful to God for protecting her and being there with her.

Storms have the ability to change people. Change their direction. Change their way of thinking about things. They can have a negative or a positive impact . Having weathered a few storms in my day, physically, mentally and spiritually, I've come to the conclusion, that we get to decide how those storms change us, weather it be for better or worse. It is a conscience decision. Will this storm destroy or strengthen me?

I was saddened after Katrina to hear a few christian leaders state that God sent Katrina to punish. To punish New Orleans for the sins of their homosexual community, and punish the Gulf Coast for their gambling community.

Upon hearing of this I immediately called to mind the verse in Romans 5:20 that says, "But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:"

What about grace?

What about all the good, kind, caring, decent, and loving, people who lived and worked and worshiped in these same communities? People who love God and Jesus and all that is good. God punished them too? What about grace?

It is always more beneficial to the advancement of our Lord's kingdom, to let Him be the judge in such matters. So that grace might prevail.

And would to God, in perilous times, that we, as christians, might season our speech with grace.

Sign on house reads :"Do Not Let Katrina Steal Your Joy" Only the roof was left of this house, everything below the roof was completely gone. Located a few miles from my sister's house.

First Baptist Church Gulfport MS

My house, located some 100 miles from the coast. Three trees toppled it and one fell right through the roof. No big deal in light of the devastation that happened to others.

It was common to find signs such as this one, placed in front of what used to be peoples homes. Evidence of "grace prevailing".

Psalm 107: 23-30

23They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
24These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.
25For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
26They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
27They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end.
28Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
29He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
30Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

**First painting in this post by the ever wonderful Chris Higham.


Susan said...

Our daughter and granddaughter lived in Ocean Springs, Mississippi right on the beach when Katrina hit. They both live here with us now :o) What satan meant for evil, God turned into good. Romans 8:28 AS ALWAYS HE DOES.

Andrea said...

So much of life is about finding God's miraculous grace. If I didn't live in His grace, I would be most miserable! But thank God for His mercy!

When we lived in Savannah, our home once flooded because of a tropical depression. We were in a hotel for three months, which doesn't sound so bad until you have lived it, especially with two teenaged sons.

But thank God for His grace! I can now look back and praise Him for seeing us through our loss. It could have been so much worse!

Thank you for sharing your heart.

Many blessings,


jennifer said...

Your post gave me chills. The pain that people experienced is beyond my comprehension and the Grace that God extended even more so.

Wow Debra - this was an AMAZING post.

Susan said...

Debra, I just passed an award on to you.

Amrita said...

You are right about grace. God 's grace abounds to the vilkest of sinners otherwise no one could be saved.

They same thing about our state of Orissa hit by natural diasters very often. its God 's judgement on them as that state is known to persecute Christians.
Missionary Graham Stains and his 2 boys were burnt alive there.
Really wonder about God 's judgement too.

Maxine said...

Wow. What memories you have! This was so interesting, and much of it sad, to read. Thanks for sharing and your comments about grace are right on!

Maxine said...

Wow. What memories you have! This was so interesting, and much of it sad, to read. Thanks for sharing and your comments about grace are right on!

Just Me said...

What a beautifully written post! In my computer switchover I lost your site address. I finally had the idea to go back through the comments left on my blog to find people. (Duh!) My devotions today went hand in hand with your post. I'm so glad God brought me to your site today! And I'm so glad He kept your sister safe!!!

Have a blessed weekend,

Colleen said...

Must be your day for awards! I have one for you on my blog!