gardening, spiritual life


“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.” James Baldwin, American novelist

One of the stories to emerge from Hurricane Florence is precious. A tiny kitten made it out of the flood-ravaged city of New Bern, NC, attached firmly to the shoulder of a man who may or may not have exactly been his before the weather went wild. His or not, the aptly named Survivor sunk his claws into the man’s rain gear and held on. Where the man went, Survivor went — and that’s just how it was until they were both safe.

I thought of them this weekend when we (by which I mean my husband; I mainly smile hopefully and point) were lugging massive pots of tropicals back into the sunny kitchen for the winter. The deer are coming out of the mountains, seeking what they may devour. They may get what’s left in the ground, possibly by tonight, but the tropicals are safe. Gathered in. To a place where neither deer doth munch nor frost doth turn to green goo.

(Wink, wink to fellow KJV enthusiasts.)

Not all the stories of the weekend bring such smiles, of course. America alone has been rocked by disasters of several kinds in just these last few days. Home and life-destroying floods and winds in the South. Exploding homes in the Northeast. Wildfires in the West. Rogue ministers just all over the place. And, it’s not any easier anywhere else in the world. Typhoons, drought, violence. It’s tough all over.

It’s enough to make one fearful, in fact. But, how much better to focus on the fact that God loves us more than a tropical plant, more than even that darling wee cat. Come what may, we can hang on — clinging to Jesus for dear life, for eternal life! Where He goes, we go — perched on His shoulder or, more accurately, tucked securely into His arms. Safe!


outdoors, spiritual life

Sea change

“Don’t let the rain drive you to the wrong shelter … sometimes the rain is the perfect protector from the rain.” Michael Bassey Johnson, Nigerian writer

In our part of the planet, people are watching the sea — or at least the sea as seen on The Weather Channel. Hurricane Florence is looming off America’s Southeast shore, a menacing threat to not only beloved coastal communities but places far inland, where already-saturated soils and heavy rains can turn lethal.

A conveyor belt of hurricanes and other rain makers is the new reality for a large part of America, including our home city. There are titans. Harvey. Irma. Maria. But, even wee Gordon soaked us to the bone in recent days. It’s true. What was left of the garden is now so bedraggled it will be cut back to over-winter height this weekend. I’m not sure the porch furnishings will ever dry out.

We are soggy. We will likely get soggier. Yet, God is still God.

He is the God who made butterflies and river otters. Yet, He is also the God who made great beasties with razor teeth and fierce claws. He is the God who made breezes that whisper pine-tinged secrets. Yet, He is the God who can lay whole forests flat.

In America, we prefer the God of butterflies and breezes. We largely pretend the God of grizzly bears and howling wind does not exist. Or that, if He does, it only takes louder, longer prayer to convince Him to abandon any path that would bring loss or even discomfort to our lives.

It is true there are many promises of God’s care for His people in the Bible. There are stories of miraculous deliverance — from wicked kings, from lions, from death itself. But, there is also acknowledgement after acknowledgement and vignette after vignette that suggest God is not as focused on our short-term comfort as we would like to believe. He is, rather, the ultimate man with a plan — watchful of believers, yet relentless in His pursuit of outcomes that have been in the works, well, forever.

Forever. We need to remember that when sea change overtakes us, even if it literally overflows us. As we are where we are geographically — in the track of endless rain in our particular case — we also are where we are in time, both as believers in particular and as humanity collectively.

We must keep in mind that God is God whether the leaves flutter or the sea roars. God is God whether His path leads to deliverance or the destruction of something we hold dear. God is God. And, God will never change. He is a shelter, an anchor, a solid rock. No short-term outcome can change that forever fact.