Our hotel pool area in Garden City, SC

Our hotel pool area in Garden City, SC

Every year we send between 100 and 150 students and staff down to Garden City, SC to participate in our Summer Training Project. Each year we utilize a hotel in the area that has served our ministry for close to 10 years worth of projects. Then, on October 8th, 2016 Hurricane Matthew said, “Hello" to our hotel. By “hello” I mean water in all of the first floor rooms, the pool pump house being completely flooded, and, did I mention the roof being blown off of the two story building?

Roof of our hotel

Roof of our hotel

I watched that storm, courtesy of my weather app, every hour on the hour as it slowly and surely turned toward SC. The crazy thing is that at no point did I feel the slightest hint of fear. No worry.  No worst-case-scenario ideation, just trust. Think about it, what can I do against a hurricane? What good does worrying do? I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I can’t do anything to effect the path of that storm; it is all in God’s hands. It is amazing to think about the scope of God’s control. Ponder these verses:

But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. How does God make a distinction between His people and the Egyptians? He doesn’t allow dogs to bark. – Exodus 11:7
Then the Lord said to Moses, “ Pharaoh will not listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” Why not change Pharaoh’s heart? So that God’s wonders would be multiplied. – Exodus 11:9
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” Why not lead Israel the shorter way to the promised land? Because if God did then they would have been afraid and returned to Egypt. These are but a few places where we see God’s indelible plans unfold; there are hundreds more. – Exodus 13:17 

Then, if that wasn’t enough, we see the truth about God’s control of a hurricane: Mark 4:38-42 - ...And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm...“Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Jesus rebukes the wind. He scolds the waves.  In the same way, hurricane Matthew is following every command that God issues and that is an oddly comforting thought that helps me patiently trust His plan.

Here’s the catch. What about my fruitfulness in ministry? What about the influence of the talk that I am about to give? What about the salvation of a new acquaintance that I’ve made? What is it that I worry and fret and obsess over these things that are “in my control”? Are they?—No. They are just like the Hurricane, completely outside of my control. What the Hurricane rocks is not the foundations of our hotel in South Carolina, it’s the illusion that I am in control of anything in my life. I want to think that I am in control of so much. I think, with ministry, that I’m helping God out with things, but the truth is that it’s no different from the Hurricane hitting the hotel.

When all is said and done, this is such a beautiful thing. God wakes me up to the reality that he is in control of everything in my life and that my response is to trust Him and rest in that control and pray that He continues to dismantle the facade that I can change anything by my worrying and concern. When the disciples were in the boat, they asked, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing”? In essence they were saying, “you are in control, right? Do something then”. That’s when he steps up and stills the storm. Jesus went on to do so much more than that, though. Instead of the disciples perishing in the storm Jesus, himself, enters the ultimate “storm” of the cross and perishes for our sake.  He loses all control and gladly submits to the will of God so that we need not fear a presentation, a hurricane, or even death itself. If God is for us in such an ultimate way then what have we to fear in any of life’s hurricanes?

Paul Poteat
Campus Outreach Minneapolis
Director

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