storm-approaching“Looks like the rains have started.”

My daughter’s text chimed on my cell phone just seconds after I, too, heard the pittypat of the first raindrops on our roof. A shiver of dread spiked in my head. Hurricane Matthew was on its way—a category 4 hurricane packing 140 mile-an-hour winds, plowing up the Atlantic along the coast of Florida.

As newscasters continually reminded us, this was not to be a fast moving hurricane, but one that would hover for hours—all 120 mph winds relentlessly raging against everything in its path.

And we were in its path.

Although we were not directly on the coast, the eye of the storm was expected to make landfall a mere 40 miles away, and Matthew’s hurricane force winds were so immense they would extend inland to sweep over us in Central Florida. What was forecast was far worse than what we’d experienced twelve years earlier when Charley whipped through Florida, ravaging everything in its path. We weren’t strangers to hurricanes and knew the devastation they could bring.

What would our neighborhood look like when it was over? Would our home be in one piece? How about our trees? Our greatest concern was whether a large oak, in falling distance of the house, was healthy enough to withstand sustained 120 mile-an-hour winds. I stood at the window, watching branches begin to sway from side to side as gusts grabbed hold and tossed them about.

After having done everything we could to prepare and with the sky darkening outside, my husband and I hunkered together in our family room, prayed for safety for all of us through the storm, and waited. Matthew was to hit shore about 11 p.m.

Although our frail humanity left us completely vulnerable in the face of the monster storms churning toward us from the south, we knew we were not alone.

The phone calls and texts from family and friends across the country lifted our spirits to remind us of that.

“Praying that you will be out of danger.”

“You’re getting a lot of prayer from this end.”

“We just prayed that angels would surround your house.”

“I hope you are safe. Prayers going up for you.”

A text from my out-of-state daughter, ‘Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty . . . He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God and I trust him. . . Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night. If you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you. . . For he will order his angels to protect you . . . .  Psalms 91:1-16

Both my daughters, one local, one out of state, continued to share texts with us throughout the evening. And the prayers continued.

A little before 11 pm. when the hurricane was expected to strike, a meteorologist on a local station noted that the hurricane was wobbling. “I think it may wobble to the East,” he said, “and because of changes in the eye, it looks like it may be weakening. Matthew may actually remain offshore.”

Sure enough when the official forecast came out, what he said was true. Matthew would not hit land, but stay about 15 miles from the coastline. In addition, it was weakening into a category 3.

Hallelujah! Texts were flying. We were thrilled at the news!

The newscaster at the desk weighed in too as he watched Matthew’s track begin to shift eastward.  “If any of you have been praying that the hurricane would move to the east, your prayers are being answered right now.”

That night the winds blew and the rains came, but no damage occurred.

Some people will just chock off this change in the hurricane’s direction to the fickle nature of hurricanes, but those of us who recognize the powerful God of the universe as our loving Father and the God who hears us when we call out to Him, know this was not a mere chance occurrence. God answers prayer! He does! He really does.

Whatever storms you are encountering at this moment, know that God hears your prayers. The God who created heaven and earth, the One who calms the storm can also direct its course away from YOU. He is our mighty God, and He knows how to protect you from the evil one and from the worst of what this fractured world wants to thrust upon you. When you call upon the name of Jesus, He is by your side.

Although our powerful and loving God may not always answer in the way we want, it is always in a way that will ultimately work for our good and His glory. And He will be there to see you through. God alone is our refuge and strength.

“Behold the Lord’s hand is not too short that it cannot save, nor His ear too dull that it cannot hear.” Isaiah 59:1

Alyse Nicole Merritt

God’s hand protecting Florida by Alyse Nicole Merritt

Thanks to Alyse Nicole Merritt for her beautiful picture and for sharing the above scripture.

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