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In the Calm of the Storm, after Matthew

For the first time in many years as a Floridian, a last week’s hurricane made our city nervous.

Hurricane Matthew Sunrise

Colorful sunrise above catastrophic hurricane Matthew above Florida in America. 3D illustration. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

It is rare that hurricanes impact our little part of Florida. Jacksonville, our city lies, tucked away in the northeastern part of the state, we are usually protected.

Last week on October 7th, the First Coast prepared for what looked to be a catastrophic event, it’s name was Mathew.

After seeing the devastation left in its wake in Haiti. Our city began to prepare for the worst case scenario of a direct impact.

Evacuations were ordered, store shelves emptied. The closer Matthew got to our coast the more time I spent circling my house and neighborhood in prayer.

In times of despair and worry, we tend to turn to prayer as our salvation. Perhaps if we turn to Him in times of peace and tranquility, he will listen more carefully to our prayers.

Wind and rain picked up, waves crashed ashore. Images of Matthew’s wrath covered the headlines of every channel. Fear was evident as the forecasters spoke of our imminent doom. Covering our home in prayer for protection, we chose to stay and see what the storm might bring.

Flooding, downed trees, power outtakes, history washed away while other remnants washed ashore. Homes and roadways turned to rubble.

As Matthew weakened and turned to the north, we began to breathe a sigh of relief. Our comfort took over as we thought the worst had passed. My wife and I sat down and started to watch a movie on Netflix. We had gotten maybe ten minutes into the film when all power went out.

I called in the outage and found that the estimated repair would be two days. We walked the neighborhood in the dark, ensured everything was safe beyond a couple of downed trees. We opened the windows and slept the night, cooled by Matthew’s breeze.

The next morning I woke and checked the status, and it would be four days before repairs. After calling around, I found generators at a Lowes across town.

Driving the streets after a hurricane were a bit surreal. The Sun shined brightly and fluffy white clouds filled the skies. Streets were empty minus the occasional branch or other debris.

I turned onto the highway, and there were caravans of power trucks from all over the southeast converging into on our city to help.

One thing we found when we lose the things we are dependent upon are the amount of stuff we have but don’t need.

Sure it was nice to have the generator and be able to keep our refrigerator cold, the WiFi running and brew a pitcher of sweet tea.

In the scope of it all did any of that matter?

My wife and had the opportunity to spend time with each other without all the distractions. Our dogs got more attention in two days than they have had in months.

We spent more time talking and sharing with our neighbors instead of clinging to our electronics behind closed doors.

Sure it is inconvenient to be without power or the things we have become dependent on. Perhaps being without is so we appreciate the things we have.

When the power was restored after forty-six hours, the first thing I did was thank the men who had been working tirelessly to get the lights back on.

They happened to be across the street when I ran out to get something to eat. I swung into the parking lot and walked up to them. You could tell they were a bit uneasy with my approach.

I am sure they had all kinds of not nice things said to them over the last few days. People can be heartless and cruel when under stress.

I walked up to their trucks and saw the tiredness in their eyes. “Thank you, you guys just turned our power back on, thank you. You are such a blessing; I just wanted you to know we were grateful. God bless you both.”

Without the men and women of our city, law enforcement, fire rescue, and the power companies our town would remain in shambles. It is through their hard work and dedication that we can enjoy the things we take for granted.

This hurricane has given me a perspective on the things that matter. Family and friends come before all the other distractions.

Some people are picking up their lives after losing everything,  and others that lost their lives. Who are we to compare or complain after a couple of days without power?

I pray that everyone impacted by Hurricane Matthew can recover what is lost. My prayers go out to my friends In Haiti and those who lost their lives in the wake of the storm. May they find God’s healing hand reaching down to them beyond all the devastation and distractions.

If you would like to donate directly to those in Haiti, please go to www.thevine.co for more information on how to help.

What do you do when a category four hurricane is barreling down on you?

Sometimes these storms come in the shape of death, divorce,  financial ruin, loss of a job, illness and more. Whatever the storm it is all about how you decide to weather it and depend on what matters.

When I spoke to my friends in Haiti, the one thing they turned to in their time of need was prayer. They prayed for God’s salvation, not only for themselves but us as well as they knew we would be impacted by the storm as well. If only I could find the unbridled faith to depend on in my times of need as they do.

About Charles Johnston

Charles is a Christian, husband and father of fur-kids who shares his walk with others in hopes to help other's along the way.