The Hurricanes of My Heart

“Good morning everyone." Began the TV announcer. "Let me correct that. There is nothing "good" about this morning of September 26, 2004."

He was right. We encountered, once again, an unwelcome visit from another member of the destructive and malicious gang: Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. They engaged in a vicious game of outdoing each other in merciless destruction.

At first, the action outside was not much different than the usual storms in Florida. But we knew this was no ordinary storm. It was a preamble of a destructive hurricane named Charley.

“Let’s go in the laundry room,” my husband suggested with apparent composure. “It’s the safest place in the house.” My parents, my son, his girlfriend and I headed in that direction.

“Everyone grab a pillow and a blanket,” I said. I made a mental note of the supplies we would need: a flashlight, water and our cell phones. Grabbing the small transistor radio with fresh batteries, a bit of reassurance trickled in. Bodies tense, we huddled in our confined shelter.

As expected, the lights went out. The TV was silenced. In the dark, the rage of the hurricane became more audible. The wind howled and whistled as if to announce, “I’ve arrived.” Its ominous nature intensified our vulnerability.

Charley had a vicious and unique personality. It was capricious. First giving the impression it was headed in one direction and at the last minute changing directions, it had its own raging madness as it ripped through neighborhoods mercilessly.

“Shhh…!” I ordered. I turned the volume up of the radio I held on my lap, “Listen!” I added with urgency.

Our family huddled attempting to tune out the loud roaring outside. We hung on each word coming from the only device connecting us to the outside world. “It’s headed for Orlando; the winds here are unbelievable. With the last moments of daylight, we can see the roaring winds snapping trees in half like pretzel sticks. In other areas, it’s been reported that trees have been yanked with force, their roots entangled in blocks of cement tossed aside like toys.” Some static interrupted his description. Then he continued, gasping between words, “The huge glass windows of buildings nearby move in and out in a swaying motion attempting to resist the fierce wind, but with no success.”

More reports followed: “Now the road is in total darkness. Traffic lights are gone, with those remaining not working,” announced another brave reporter standing outside to give us the detailed recount of Charley's fury.

Without air-conditioning, our cozy area turned into a small oven. But safety tossed out comfort as Charley’s rage grew closer. The strong winds thrust sporadic bangs, rattling our garage door. The hurling debris against our front and back doors as well as those slamming against the large windows gave the same sensation of the tic…tic…tic of a bomb. We knew it would strike, but didn’t know exactly when, nor did we know which window would burst or what part of the roof would yank away first.

“What is that scraping?” I asked with curiosity.

“It’s my yogurt cup,” my mom said in her characteristic calmness. “It’s my bedtime snack,” she added with a matter-of-fact tone.

“How can she eat at a time like this?” I thought.

But then I remembered her words: “My hope is in the Lord. He will protect us. Do you think this hurricane is catching Him by surprise? He is always faithful.”

Charley’s furious winds struck with more intensity in some areas, yanking off roofs like box tops. The roaring winds hurled traffic lights, smashing them to the ground. Some fatalities were reported.

“The tracking shows Charley is now in Orlando’s downtown area,” the radio reporter announced.

We all went silent to make sure we heard the good news correctly and then it was confirmed. Charley had moved north; it finally passed us. And although fatigued with anxiety, we breathed a sigh of relief.

Each member of the family gasped nervously as they glanced at the destruction barely visible through the shadows of the night. But in contrast, a deep yawn slipped from my mom’s lips and she tossed her empty yogurt cup in the wastebasket. “There was no need to worry then; no need to worry now. God is in control. Good night everyone,” she announced with tenderness in her voice.

Her profound trust and hope impacted my heart and stirred a personal hurricane of awareness within me. I’d heard these words countless times, but perhaps never before understood their significance: "We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name." (Psalm 33:20-21)

My mom’s hope and trust in the Lord was contagious. I embraced it and during storms in my life, it became my generator providing the energy to keep moving forward.

When storms rattle the doors of our heart, His grace is still at work, His truth still prevails and His hand is active. And even when those emotional hurricanes file through, God’s protection silences the winds of fear.

“Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea…” (Psalm 46:2)

Fear may divert faith, but faith always devours fear.

Janet Eckles

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