So, it started out as a good idea: a quiet, few days with friends in Florida between Sundays. We would visit familiar eating and shopping places, see some Florida friends, sit around the pool, on the boat, and stare at palm trees in the sunshine. That was a plan a few months ago when we planned last week’s trip.
Then, as the days drew closer to last week’s planned vacay, the weather started looking a little icky. There was a storm brewing just south of Florida, “Ian”. Well, let’s see what happens. The storm moved slowly, when it moved at all, still no news from our airline that our flight was cancelled, so that was good news. And so, on Monday, (after all, they’d cancel if it was going to be awful…wouldn’t they?) we lifted off from Indianapolis for the 110-minute flight to central Florida.
We landed under a beautiful cloud cover at sunset (see the photo above) and walked off the plane to an airport with a different mood than usual. First, there were hardly any people there. Second, everyone was in “prep” mode for the storm.
This must be a little more serious than we thought.
It was nighttime when we arrived at our hosts’ home, to find they had secured all their poolside furniture inside. The next day we went into the little town we’ve been visiting several times a year for about 10 years, and found shops either closed, or saying they would be for the next two days, a larger-than-normal police presence and emptier-than-normal streets.
Well, you know what happened. IAN hit with force and moved slowly across the state. Where we were was 45 minutes inland from the west, and situated north of the “eye”, but we got hit. Our little town didn’t suffer too much structural damage, although you’d be surprised what sustained 60-mile-an-hour winds and almost 20” of rain WOULD do. But our neighbors to the south were battered, where WE were inconvenienced. By Friday, in our little town, things were incredibly back to normal: shops and cafes open, streets filled with tourists (and those moving inland seeking shelter).
I noticed some very moving moments in all of this. The most striking to me at the time were the things I saw before the storm.
People were getting ready, they were “putting on the armor” as it were (EPHESIANS 6:10-17). Just like the scripture commends, they were getting ready: “…so that they would be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take their stand.” (paraphrased)
There are all kinds of people, who had all kinds of opinions about the impending storm:
1.There were residents of long-standing who could not remember a storm ever being that bad in their town, so this one wouldn’t be either.
2. There were residents of long-standing who decided to not ever take a chance and be fully prepared, and/or get “their butts the heck out of Dodge.”
3. There were those who believed the storm would be a “non-event” and all the hype was a product of the media.
4. And there were those who felt they had no choice but to stay and hold on.
One common thing I observed was how connected everyone in the community was. They contacted each other. They planned to shelter one another. They shared food and water with one another. Those who were out-of-state had their homes secured by neighbors who were in town. Despite how many felt about what had yet to happen – and many of their feelings (as all things seem to be these days) were colored by their “political paradigms” – all these diverse people came together.
And, within the context of this EPHESIANS verse, I saw something I’d never thought of – every knight has at least one squire (“a young nobleman acting as an attendant to a knight”)
Knights, in the age of knights, couldn’t put on the full armor they needed by themselves. They needed help as more and more weight was placed upon them. This idea is even illustrated in the EPHESIANS verses. The one preparing for the “battle of life” and the “evil day” is told what they should wear, and implicitly instructed to “accept” the shield of faith, and “take” both the helmet of salvation and the sword: Jesus, the Word of God.
Ultimately, these pieces of armor we need to wear in preparation for upcoming storms are given to us by our Father in heaven. But He always works in partnership with us. So we, in turn, can only put on the armor as we are helped into it by “squires”: those God has placed around us to help us prepare.
We do not fight the battles alone. In fact, God suggests time and time again that the battle is HIS, but we still need to be there, and be prepared. However, our preparation is done in “community”, in “fellowship”, and in “friendship”.
I have been prepared and armed for certain storms because someone else (being an agent of God) has watched out for me, has helped me arm myself. And I, hopefully, in turn have been a “squire” for someone else, in their preparation.
Last week taught me many things. It was a new adventure for me to check off my list.
But the things that will stay with me are:
Nothing is forever, enjoy the moment.
“Things” are not “life”.
Don’t be lazy or cynical. Be practical. “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”…
…and, when putting on the armor as you prepare for inevitable spiritual hurricanes
that may take everything you have,
the people you love…
…and displace your life,
seek for good “squires”. BE a good “squire”.
We are ALL here for each other.