Sunday, September 14, 2008


by John D Ramsey

Lisa talked to Cara this evening. Cara evacuated Houston with the treatment center where she works. Cara had moved from Galveston closer to Houston just days before Gustav fizzled. This weekend, some of her friends on the island lost their homes to Ike. Cara waited all day to hear from one friend whose home the storm destroyed. Cara finally received a text-message informing her that her friend was okay.

Cara also told Lisa that she saw her new apartment complex on television, and it does not appear damaged. Lisa and I have been tracking water levels around Clear Lake as best we can, and we, too, are optimistic that Cara’s apartment may have survived intact. Her roommates will be returning as soon as authorities permit them, and Cara will get an updated report when they do.

Cara will be staying at the camp for an indeterminate period. Her responsibilities will keep her there for as long as they need her. We expect that the storm surge inundated her car, which she left parked near Clear Creek when she evacuated with the clinic. It was a good old car.

There will be time for assessing damage and making financial decisions, but right now Cara is serving people who need her help. I could not be more proud of her.

Meanwhile in Kansas City:

The weather has been wet and our moods dreary (birthday parties notwithstanding). It has been difficult to focus on Gabby's sixth birthday knowing that Ike disrupts Cara’s life. Still, Gabby’s birthday parties went well. Lisa’s mom and dad came over Friday night, and Gabby’s friends came over Saturday morning. Lisa planned to have the kids’ party at the park, but the weekend forecast required a change of plans. With fourteen kids here, along with several moms, I did not even feel like the house was crowded (though I retreated for a while). Lisa did have a bit of an adventure keeping some of the kids contained, but no one was injured and everyone had fun. Gabby will be writing thank-you notes this week as part of her language arts assignments.

After the Saturday party, Lisa took a well-deserved nap. The little girls and I went outside in the drizzle and salvaged gala apples from the tree. We did not pick them last weekend because they were in worse shape than the red delicious apples that we boxed. Yet, every apple removed from a tree is an apple that will not sustain a squirrel through the winter.

On the gala tree, there were very few beautiful apples, but today we filled two thirty-gallon coolers with otherwise usable apples. When Lisa awoke from her nap, she came outside to join us. She especially did not enjoy working in the rain. Nevertheless, she realized that we needed to deal with the gala tree. She could not bring herself to complain about the weather considering what people in Texas (including Cara) endure this week.

I am glad for the opportunity to work with the little girls in the rain. Modern lifestyles place too much emphasis on personal comfort. Years from now, Claire and Gabby may remember the day in September 2008 when they picked apples in the rain, but many normal, comfortable days will prove altogether unmemorable. If nothing else, working outside in the rain should make working outside in nice weather much easier for Claire and Gabby.

Nothing is wrong with enjoying comfort, but when our pursuit of comfort prevents us from accomplishing something, how pathetic we are! Cara will always remember Hurricane Ike. She will remember that she left her own interests behind to care for those in need. Whether she gains professionally from this experience what she does these next few weeks will certainly become part of her character.

Our best opportunities lie beyond the boundaries of our personal comforts:

Today, I read in 1 Samuel chapter fourteen. Saul was king of Israel; he and his army arrayed themselves against the Philistines in a standoff. Saul had led an army of 330,000 men against the Ammonites in a previous time, yet since then the Philistines had succeeded in disarming Israel perhaps by killing or otherwise disabling the blacksmiths. Saul had an army of about 600 men with him, but only he, and his son Jonathon, had swords.

Trepidation paralyzed Saul, but his son Jonathon told his armor-bearer, “Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.” 1 Samuel 14:6 (NIV) Jonathon and his servant boldly approached the Philistine outpost. When the Philistines chided them to come up, Jonathon and his armor-bearer climbed up the rocks and attacked. Jonathon led the way with his armor-bearer following. Together, they killed twenty Philistines, and the rest of the Philistine army panicked. The Hebrews who had aligned themselves with the Philistines changed sides once again, and Saul’s army-in-hiding came down from the hills to finish the rout. The Lord delivered Israel on that day.

Within our lives – within our walk of faith – many things impose upon our comforts or unsettle our hearts. Nevertheless, we need not have confidence in ourselves to have confidence in God. We need not squander our time in self-indulgent indecision. We need not look too far ahead while there is something to do today. Trusting God, we should move forward, energetically accomplishing our present task whether it is small or grand.

Sometimes the discomforts we face bring with them the sweetest rewards. Tonight, Lisa’s crock-pot simmers with the aroma of apples. In the morning, its contents should be apple butter.

Tonight, Cara works in an unfamiliar place looking out for children with unsettled minds and hearts. Tonight, I pray that God will cause Cara to be his little river of joy refreshing souls who are despairing, and may the morning bring them healing.

Regardless of our fears and inadequacies, “Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving.”

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