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  • Writer's pictureJoni Topper

You Heard it Here First - Not Really

The 2022 hurricane season is underway. As hurricane Ian threatened the coast of Florida, I sat in the hospital with my sick husband watching the weather channel report on every detail of the approaching storm. We watched on Monday. The storm did not make landfall until Wednesday. Ernest had been so ill that we did not even turn the television on the first day we were at the hospital. Once we began watching updates on the storm, we watched nothing else.

My sister and brother-in-law lived on the coast right in the path of the storm. We viewed the reports helpless to do anything but pray for whoever lived in the path of Ian. Fortunately, the trajectory of the storm shifted, and our family members were spared the most devastating fury of the storm.

A week later Ernest felt better, and we stepped back into our regular routine at church. Our Sunday School class that day came from Noah’s story in Genesis. I could not escape considering the flood we’d been staring at on the radar all week. I tuned in to the lesson with a keen interest in the flood.

The scripture said, “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” (Genesis 6:7 NIV) I would love to say, “My how times have changed,” but in all honesty I have to say, “Nothing has changed.”

The perfection of the garden of Eden became a distant memory soon after Adam and Eve chose their own way rather than God’s. Mankind’s first acts of rebellion paved the way for a pattern of destruction that would be followed by all generations that followed. Even the worldwide flood did not wash away the evil desires of the heart.

The winds of hurricane Ian changed the landscape of Florida, but it will likely not tune people’s hearts to God any more than the flood in Noah’s day did. We tend to look toward our present comfort, not our eternal state whether we are the ones impacted by the storms of life or the ones observing the disaster.

As I pondered the words, “every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time,” I realized why kindness stands out like a candle in the darkness. I understood why obedience matters to God. I recalled moments when someone gave of themselves on my behalf, and it branded my memory.

Our hearts are bent toward self. Our thoughts wander in the direction of evil. All day long we strive to please ourselves when we are created and called to walk with God. Solomon said, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV) Many times, people say, “there’s nothing new under the sun” expressing a complaint against life’s monotony. Solomon’s statement emphasized the emptiness of living only for the “the rat race,” as opposed to living for God and his glory.

As we attempt to help those in need of physical assistance in the aftermath of this storm or any other, may we not forget their spiritual needs. This world needs candles in the dark. God is seeking obedient hearts. We have great opportunity to give of ourselves.

May our attention turn toward heaven. May our focus look toward the future. May we walk not hand in hand not with the world but with the creator of the world whose very act of creation demonstrated his desire to commune with us.

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