Posted by: littlebitofparadise | August 15, 2014

Hurricane Survivor: The Greatest Lesson a Storm Can Teach You

mattredmanVia

Ten years ago today, I drove my storm-ravaged Honda over live downed power lines as I left my parents’ neighborhood for the first time.

It was about 36 hours after Hurricane Charley had devastated my home town, and my Dad had sent me out with the mission of driving north on the highway until I found a gas station that had a supply of gasoline. My trunk was full of empty gasoline barrels my family hoped to fill up so we could run a generator for minimal electricity at the house.

It was my first view of Port Charlotte, Florida, since it has been pummeled. It was eery and scary and horrible. I drove past mobile home communities (very common in coastal Florida towns) that had literally been leveled to the ground. It was surreal.

As I continued to drive around fallen tree trunks and over live power lines, I flipped on my car radio and tuned to the Christian radio station. The moment is so vivid in my memory it could have been yesterday.

As I switched to the station, Matt Redman’s song Blessed Be Your Name was just starting. It’s a song I’d heard literally hundreds of times, in church and on the radio. But it was the first time that my heart really soaked in the message of the song. [Take a second to click on the link above and play the song].

This wasn’t just a catchy praise and worship song, or a Top 40 Christian hit. This was a message that is utterly fundamental to every single Christian life, in every age, in ever circumstance.

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Following Christ, keeping the faith, giving praise, having a heart of thankfulness – is often easy in times of abundance, when we are in a season of comfort. The praise of a Job with a house full of children, a loving wife, a barn overflowing, were easy words flowing out of an overflowing heart.

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

It’s when the darkness closes in, when life gets messy, when tragedy happens, when calamity strikes, when we don’t feel Him or hear Him or experience the consolation of conviction. That’s when the real work of Christianity happens in our hearts. Because it’s not about emotion or feelings. It’s about our will. Our will freely choosing to praise Him, in spite of it all.

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Your heart. My heart. The heart of every single person. Each of us has the opportunity and ability to CHOOSE HIM. To choose to praise, to choose to glorify, to choose to accept, to choose to thank, even when life is hard or when the comfortable, good things have been stripped away.

We can choose it. We can choose it every day.

The married couple struggling with fertility. The parents who’ve lost a child. Illness. Death. Natural disasters. Financial troubles. Accidents and tragedies of every shape and form.

Sure there are times for the almost giddy-joy, hands-raised-high “Blessed Be Your Name…” But this song, this prayer, this declaration is most especially the hunched over, pain coursing through every vein in your body, holding on for dear life, uttered through gritted teeth or an avalanche of tears: BLESSED BE YOUR NAME.

He gives. He takes away. And it’s our free gift, our pleasure, our sacrifice, to still utter those words.

Blessed Be Your Name.

That’s the lesson of Hurricane Charley that’s been with me these ten years. That’s the lesson that’s shaped my life, my marriage, my motherhood. When it’s good, when it’s great, when it’s bad, when the pain sucks my breath away. I can still choose.

I can still chose him.

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

– Job 1:21

*****

“Blessed Be Your Name”

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
 .

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

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Responses

  1. I have always been amazed by that song – even more so after learning it was written with September 11th in mind.

  2. Beautifully written. Difficult but true.

  3. A little late in commenting, but in reading your posts, this also stuck out for me as a lesson worth learning from your experience:

    “My mom called me about 9:30 am. ‘Steph I think you should come over to the house. The storm is supposed to hit Tampa this afternoon and Dad says we’ll be getting very strong winds…I think it’s best you come stay with us, at least for the day.’

    “And so I grabbed my purse, my keys, the library book I was reading, threw on some Old Navy flip flops (MAJOR regret about the flip flops later) and walked out of my condo with hardly a glance back at anything.

    “It was the last time I’d see the place before the roof fell in on it.”

    Since you were 23 at the time, and didn’t have to “obey” your mom on something like this, you could easily have waved off your mom’s concern and said, “I’ll be fine.” But you did listen to your mom, and left “with hardly a glance back.” And so you weren’t in your condo when the roof fell in.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with Hurricane Charley. They’ve been fascinating to read.

    • Wow thanks for that insight Michelle! In these 10 years I’ve never thought of that 🙂


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