Storm Warning! Immediate Action Required
Sunday August 28, 2005 4:00pm EST – The national weather service had been saying for nearly 5 days that they were “greatly concerned”. Their concern turned to “alarm”, and went from serious, to grave! The course was fixed and the destination was clear. With an less than 24 hours till landfall, this was no longer a forecast with a percentage of likelihood… It was now a reality, and danger was imminent. A weather statement was issued like never before in modern history: “Catastrophic Hurricane Warning” – a Landfall in New Orleans with a strong likelihood of massive damage and significant casualties. A Mandatory evacuation order was issued. A Federal State of Emergency came from the nations capital: “Take immediate action now. Prepare for historic devastation!”
Some, even prior to this frightening alert, had heeded the advance warnings. Others had heard this and prior warnings, but failed to take action. Others simple scoffed the warnings. Many were prepared; a great many were not. And for those who were not prepared… or ill prepared… their loss was great, and unmerciful.
As a result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the city, the landscape, the commerce, the economy, the population and the people of New Orleans were changed forever by the “single most catastrophic natural disaster in U.S. History.”
Consider this: when the 145 mile per hour category 4 hurricane cleared the city of New Orleans – 80% of the city was underwater; damaged exceeded $108 billion; tens of thousands were left homeless; over 1 million people we displaced by the storm; shelters, at peak, were housing some 273,000 citizens; the cities population was cut in half; and 1,833 people were left dead. No one was left unaffected!
Matthew 7:24-27 reads: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
What if I said a storm was coming? Would you heed the warning – both hearing, and taking decisive action? Or, would you hear the warning, but only talk about it, attending meetings about it, but never take any measurable action? Or would you scoff at the warning, and ignore it altogether? What will the result be, if a storm does indeed come? If you heed the warning, what would that look like? How would you prepare? What would you do?
What if I told you that the preparations that need to be made, would be every bit as beneficial during the storm, as they would be if no storm came at all? What if I can promise you that you had nothing to lose in preparing for the storm, even if a/the storm never comes? But it will come. Even if it’s small unexpected rain showers. Or just a spring Thunderstorm that passes quickly. Or a overly blustery fall day. Life sends us storms – almost daily. Yet, there may be a large storm brewing. Not unlike the reoccurring headlines on the U.S. West coast: “The Big One is Coming” – and the wisest of residents that live there, live prepared, all the time, every day – so we too, are called to live prepared.
Even if you doubt “The Big One”, you know that you will face storms tomorrow; next week; next month; and next year. And the preparation that I am proposing, will be that of a wise man who built his house upon the rock. And a house upon the rock, whether there is a storm or no storm, is the place our Lord has said that our house must be.
Our Lord does not propose to tell the building contractors among us – in this parable of the wise and foolish man – that we are to build some physical structure of a home, upon a granite slab; rather it is clear that the message of the parable is to take obedient steps of action, in response to what you are hearing from Him, regarding the spiritual foundation of your life. Matthew 6:33 teaches us that we are to so prioritize the spiritual aspects of His Rule & Reign, that all this “other physical stuff” will be added to us (taken care of) as a result. If our lives are firmly established upon the rock that comes from true Biblical faith, then there will be no preparation necessary when we hear the “storm warnings.” But I submit to you that many – if not most – among Christians in America – are living a religious brand of Christianity that is so shallow, they would sell their souls to the devil for a loaf of bread in time of need.
So what of me? And what of you? Are we living a life of true faith (that is: Hearing the Father’s voice; Believing what He says [in spite of ourselves]; and because of love, by grace, taking action, in obedient response to His words) that will allow us to not only survive the coming storm, but actually thrive spiritually on the midst of it. Being prepared looks like “the fullness of the obedience of faith”, manifesting in a great many ways including: intentionality in discipleship, commitment in relationships and community, self-sacrifice, grace empowerment, repentance, devotion, allegiance, love and much time devoted to intimate prayer with the Father that we might come to know His voice in all things!
Preparation looks like embracing the storms of life, and the prospect of “the storm” (whenever it comes, and whatever it looks like) with joy and thanksgiving, knowing that He who had begun a good work in you, is seeing it through to completion in Christ, in and through the storm. Preparation looks like being consumed with a radical extremist lifestyle of loving God, loving one another, faithfully being devoted to His Word, and establishing now – in advance of the storm(s) – where our allegiance lies!
This is the preparation we need. This is the life we are called to. It should not take the threat of a storm to bring us to this place of preparation that we have been called to since our conversion to Christ – nonetheless, prepared we must be:
“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.” (Luke 12:35-40)
It is past time to prepare. We must trim our lamps, prepare our oil flasks (Matt 25:1-13), and be dressed in readiness. Not just because of storm warning, but because this is how our Lord and Kings has called us to live every day in His Kingdom.