Moments of Inspiration

Life in the church is amazing and infinitely rewarding, even if sometimes
frustrating. The goodness of people and God's work in our lives comes out in surprising ways that inspire me. This happened recently as we
commemorated the first anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Michael.

I remember clearly how odd it seemed to be in the middle of a category 5 hurricane yet see only a hard rain. I soon learned that massive devastation and carnage was being visited upon the people of Mexico Beach and the surrounding area to the east of us. I remember our prayers and our generous response as a church and community. I remember seeing sustained overcrowding at our own hospital in Ft. Walton Beach and the faces of defeat as refugees spilled into town. The word "horrible" was on everyone's lips.

Through it all, the people of Lynn Haven UMC continued to worship. And
by worship, I mean: praise God from whom all blessings flow. They gladly accepted whatever supplies or money we sent them. They never stopped ministering to others in the community, even as they were licking their wounds. Rev. Craig Carter took every opportunity to thank anyone who helped and offered compassion and encouragement to his people.

This brings me to that moment of inspiration. As we commemorate the
anniversary of Hurricane Michael, I had the privilege of leading the Shalimar congregation in a prayer written by Rev. Carter for the occasion. It was a prayer of thanks and a plea for continued strength and protection. He reminded us that the church is not a building. And then he wrote these words, "We thank You for the ways in which You have used this tragedy to accomplish Your divine will–bringing hope to the hopeless and help to the helpless. This tragic event has brought believers together from all walks of life, and we have seen Your grace revealed through the goodness and generosity of Your people, especially the people called Methodists."

I learned that surviving and recovering from the hurricane, as devastating as it was, became an occasion for renewed faith and response to grace. When they saw others' generous response, they responded in turn and vowed as a congregation to tithe all their giving to help others in similar disasters. So when Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas, Lynn Haven UMC gave $12,000 to support them. Let that sink in. A church that has not rebuilt one brick after a year of
destruction (as they are still wrangling with insurance settlements) does not wait until their own needs are met to start meeting others' needs.

Once again, God makes all things work for good for those who love him (Rom 8:28). I would not wish such harm on anyone, but if it makes us love and trusts God like that, well, let it be so.

Brian Dale

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