Thursday, September 01, 2005

Weekly Word for September 2 - 9, 2005

Weekly Word - September 2, 2005

Give ear to my prayer, O God; And do not hide Thyself from my supplication.
Give heed to me, and answer me; . . .
My heart is in anguish within me, . . . Fear and trembling come upon me; . . .
(Psalm 55: 1, 4 & 5)

As I watched the television, I couldn’t help but stare at the storm that was about to hit. It was a huge storm, upgraded to a category 5 - the largest and most deadly of storms. They had named her Katrina, a name that sounded so pretty and so light - even though she was so huge and so deadly. People were boarding up their homes and leaving for higher ground. While others who had no way to leave, searched for shelter. As I watched the reports, I felt so afraid for them. Feeling helpless, I started to pray . . .

My heart is in anguish within me, . . . Fear and trembling come upon me; . . . And I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away . . . I would hasten to my place of refuge - From the stormy wind and tempest.”
(Psalm 44: 4 - 8)

It was September of 1985, and a hurricane was bearing down on New England. We hadn’t had one in so many years, that I didn’t even remember what it was like. Mike was 8 and Jen had just turned 4, and they both thought it was a big adventure. We bought flashlights and batteries, and food that we could eat without power. We had water in jugs, and the radio ready, and they really thought this was fun. We had taped all the windows, and picked up the yard - getting ready for the winds and the rain. And then we waited - as the storm headed our way. And I wished I could be like my children. They played and pretended - and were secure in our home. But I was worried - as I hoped and I prayed . . .

Give ear to my prayer, . . . I am restless in my complaint . . . My heart is in anguish within me. (Psalm 55: 1 & 4)

As the winds howled and the rain poured down, the fear inside me grew. I paced our little home, hoping that everything would be alright. As I did, my children continued to play - and their father even fell asleep. I wished that I had the confidence that they did - but I was afraid - and so I waited, and paced - and I hoped, and I prayed . . .

In Thee, O Lord, I have taken refuge; . . . Incline Thine ear to me . . . For Thou art my hope; O Lord God, Thou art my confidence . . .
(Psalm 71: 1, 2, & 5)

Over the years, when there have been times of crisis, times when I was afraid - those are the times when I want my children near me. I want to make sure they are alright. I want to keep them safe. But those are also the times when it is out of my control. And all I can do - is hope and pray . . .

But as for me, I will hope continually, And will praise Thee yet more and more. Oh God, Thou hast taught me from my youth; And I still declare Thy wondrous deeds.
(Psalm 71: 14 & 17)

It was September, 2001 - and the day had started out like any other day. I had made coffee, as Ted got ready for work. I was heading to the hospital that day, as it was my first day of orientation for my new job. I was excited to start it, and so I dressed to impress my boss. Sitting in her office, we started to go over the policies and procedures of the agency. I had a notebook of information she had just handed to me, when a woman went running by the door. “A plane just hit one of the buildings in New York City” she said. And just as quickly she was gone.

As I look back at that day, I remember bits and pieces with such clarity - and the rest just fades away. I remember Sharon’s face, when the woman ran back - telling us that another plane had just hit. I remember wondering what to do, as everyone headed for their computers. I stood looking at the screen, seeing a picture of New York, and smoke coming from the towers. And then I remember searching for Dina, hoping that her son would be safe.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, . . .”
(Isaiah 41: 10)

It was hard not to be afraid that day, September 11, 2001. The day we remember as 9-11. Our country was attacked, by men who chose death - for themselves as well as others. As we watched the images on our televisions, most of us couldn’t help being afraid. Somehow, I left the hospital and drove home. As I did, I called my husband. I wanted to hear his voice. When I got home, I called both my children - needing to hear them as well. And then I worried about Bradd, Dina‘s son - the boy who had become part of my family. No one had heard from him, and he lived right there - so we waited, and we hoped, and we prayed . . .

Bradd was only 17 when I first met him, as he came to pick up my daughter. They were dating, and I wasn’t sure about this boy. I didn’t trust him! But then, I don’t think I would have trusted anyone - with my 16 year old daughter. They dated for over two years, and I got to know this dark haired boy. He was sensitive and artistic, always questioning, and always listening. He seemed to want to know about faith and trust, and about the God that I believed in. And so, over the years, we developed a friendship and a caring that has lasted longer than their romance.

He was going to college at NYU, and he lived just down the road from the business district. He loved the city, and he walked just about everywhere! He loved the people and the energy that the city had. He loved working on plays and going to school there, it was the only place he wanted to be. And so on this day, he had been heading to class, walking down the sidewalk where a group of people were standing. They were staring at the sky, and looking up, and he wondered what they were looking at. And so he stopped, and looked up also, seeing the tower with it‘s antennae leaning slight to the left. And then he saw a plane heading toward the other building, and that’s when he turned and walked away.

It wasn’t until later, that he realized just what he had witnessed - and the shock that he felt, lasted for days. The sidewalk he had stood on, was now covered with ash and debris. And those people he had stood next to, well they had to run for their lives. That night, he finally called - and I cried when I heard his voice. I listened as he told me everything that he had seen. And over and over, I told him how happy I was that he was unhurt - and alive!

That night, as I tried to fall asleep, the pictures from the day kept swirling in my head. All those people who’s lives had been lost, the senseless attacks that left so many injured and dead, all of it kept coming back in my mind. My heart hurt as I thought about it all, and then I began to pray . . .

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! . . . When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, . . . For I am the Lord your God, . . .” (Isaiah 43: 1 - 3)

Do not fear . . . I wish I could say that I didn’t fear - but it seems that I always do. When terrible things happen - I become so afraid - especially for those that I love. That’s when I turn to the Lord. I don’t know what else to do . . . So I pray . . .

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; . . . For I am the Lord your God,”

Katrina had hit, and the destruction was terrible. I couldn’t believe what we were seeing on the news. There was flooding everywhere, and whole towns had been blown away. Many had died, and thousands were now homeless. It was such a huge catastrophe. As we watched the television, my heart hurt - and I wondered how this could have happened. So many had been hoping - so many had been praying - and I wished I knew how to help . . .

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea . . . The Lord of hosts is with us
(Psalm 46: 1 - 7)

He is with us - - - When I read this passage, I realized it didn’t say that we wouldn’t have troubles. It said “He is with us” helping us through those troubles. It isn’t a perfect world - but one with both “good” and “bad” in it. We all have to face both - in our lives . . .

Though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, . . . The Lord of hosts is with us;

Ted and I watched the movie “Now and Then” the other day. It is a story of friendships in our lives. It is the story of needing friends, to help us with life. In the movie, there was a line that seemed important. It said that in each life - good and bad things will happen. But you can’t wall off your heart because of the bad things - - - you miss out on the good things, if you do.

A few days ago, a bad thing happened to so many people in our country. It was one of the largest storms our country has ever seen. It caused destruction in three states. Hundreds of thousands of peoples lives were changed in just a few hours. Homes were lost, and people died. As I watched it, my heart hurt. And I wondered what I could do. What could one person do in the face of such a huge tragedy? That’s when I realized that we all need each other. We all have faced troubles and losses, in our lives. Some of us have faced tragedies. When we do, it is the arms of those we love, the hands of a friend, the hope that another person gives us - - - that helps us to go on with life.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16: 33)

Will you be that friend? Right now, at this very moment, you can help. You can reach out to those who’s lives have been devastated by this storm. You can donate your money to the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, or other agencies who are already there, to help these people. You can donate your time, if you are able. And there is one more thing you can do. You can pray. You can make the choice to care, to open your heart to another’s hurt. When you do, our world is changed forever.

Will you care about another’s life? Will you choose to open your heart? Will you be the hands and heart of God - - - here on earth?

"I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life. . ."
(Deuteronomy 30: 19)

God bless you in this coming week.

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers


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