The Eye of the Storm
Last week’s hurricanes (there were several on the map at the same time) took me back to my first one. We had only been living in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas for a few weeks when Hurricane Beulah hit. Having been a category 5 hurricane, it hit land as a category 3 with peak winds of 136 MPH. The hurricane made landfall at the base of the Rio Grande River and came up the river, spanning a then-record 115 tornadoes. At the time, it was the third largest hurricane on record, killing 59 people. We did not understand any of those numbers, nor why people were packing up and driving north out of the Valley. We stayed. We watched the air conditioning unit from the roof of our apartment house blow by our sliding glass door, even as we watched the door itself bend in and out with the wind. Later, we walked out into the eye of the storm, where we saw bright sunlight, and felt no wind. Then it came again from the other direction. When it was over, I waded in waist deep water for several blocks to the Baptist Student Center, where my office was located, only to find a missing roof and lots of water damage inside. But my strongest memory was standing outside in the eye of the storm, with destruction all around me, and more storm on the way. In the years that followed, I would always be fascinated by the reconnaissance airplanes that would fly into the eye of the storm, to get readings on the numbers, and then report how beautiful and calm it was in the eye. Life is like that – there are often storms all around us, but we find safety in the eye, in the presence of the Lord. The writer of Proverbs quotes the Lord saying, “When your terror comes like a storm, and your destruction comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. . . whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure.” I guess that’s why I’ve always loved the chorus to “’Til the Storm Passes By” by Mosie Lister, based on Isaiah 25:4 “For You have been a . . . refuge from the storm.
“’Til the storm passes over, ’til the thunder sounds no more
‘Til the clouds roll forever from the sky
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand
Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.”