by Debbie OConnor
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“Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” Psalm 127:1
I live 30 miles north of New Orleans, Louisiana. Broken trees, blue-tarped houses, storm debris, and rot are everywhere. Newscasters broadcast bad news every night. Every business is hiring, but there is no place for people to live. We are depressed: people are divorcing and others are dying. There are few trailers, no levees, no power, no money…and we are running out of time. Hurricane season starts in June.
I want to run. Knoxville, Tennessee is my dream. I can smell the crisp, cool mountain air. In my mind, I see sparkling brooks, flowers, trees of all kinds—all of them whole, stretching their branches in praise to their Creator.
No one in Louisiana can turn a deaf ear as Evil cackles over his imagined victory. The Destroyer's fist has leveled us, leaving us prostrate before the God who gives and takes away. There is no hiding, pretending or ignoring our lot: we are in an awful mess. Before this region regains a shadow of her former beauty, my five-year-old son will be grown.
Scripture says that, “God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Katrina has stripped me of the illusion of control. I see myself for who I am—a child, wholly dependant upon her Father for sustenance and comfort.
There is nowhere to run. I might leave Louisiana and find a pretty, comfortable suburb that hasn’t been afflicted by a recent natural disaster, but God has not promised me a trouble free life.
My grandmother and great-grandmother relocated after Katrina. They evacuated to family in Evansville, Indiana before the storm. They decided to stay there when they learned that falling trees had destroyed my grandmother’s condominium. We were happy that they were out of danger and away from the difficulties created by the storm. Then, on November 6, 2005, an F3 tornado ripped a gash right through Evansville, very near where they are living. There was no warning.
The only safe place to be is in the arms of Jesus! Whether I’m in New Orleans, Knoxville or Perfect Town, Anyplace, I want to be with Him. Forget illusions, I’ll let the Lord build my house and watch over my city. I’ll hide myself in Him until He takes me home. Until then, He is my shelter. My loving Father leads me to springs of living water—even in the most arid desert—and wipes every tear from my eyes (paraphrase Rev. 17).
NIV, ©2006 Deborah O’Connor
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A very moving powerful testimony of your Faith and the Faithfulness of God in your life;beautifully written! Thank you for sharing your heart;I was Blessed and Greatly Encouraged. In Christ,Dee "Numbers 6:24,25,26"
Deb, your piece has captured beautifully my own sentiments as a fellow Katrina victim. Oh, that I could run anywhere but here! That is what my soul longs for -- a way of escape! But as another hurricane season bears down upon us, one predicted to be worse than the last, God hasn't given me permission to run. He has, however, reminded me that He promises never to leave my side! Thanks for sharing this piece with others, and for reminding us all of the faithfulness of the Father! One thing you wrote really touched my heart: "Before this region regains a shadow of her former beauty, my five-year-old son will be grown." So true! But your son will bear witness to the beauty of the Spirit within you, which is more than enough! Blessings, Cheri
Deb, from one Katrina victim to another, you have captured the feelings in my own heart just beautifully! Oh, that I could be anywhere but here -- that is the sentiment of my soul after that storm and as we march relentlessly towards yet another hurricane season, one predicted to be even worse than the last. But the Lord is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. It is to Him that I have had to run for comfort, peace, and security. He has not given His permission for me to run to the mountains or anywhere else, but He has said that He will never leave me or forsake me! I rest in Him. We rest in Him! Thanks for sharing! Cheri
Dear Deborah, this is a beautiful write... a good reminder of the faithfulness of our God. thanks for sharing. Reading this, I was reminded of the Tsunami which hit us on 26th Dec 2004, and where water rose high inside our homes, sending pots and pans,household articles and light wooden things floating out of the house. We had to stand on high ground, metaphorically... we have to stand on high ground, on Jesus our base. Only He saves. He truly loves us all.
Beautiful work, Deborah! Your article truly depicts how the harshness of life sends us running into and resting in the arms of Jesus. My prayers are with you as you rebuild your life. Thanks for sharing. Cyndi
What a beautifully written article. It presents so vividly the truth regarding our earthly existence. What we can be sure of is that our God reigns over it all, whether we understand or not. Your expression of faith is so very real and inspiring. I wouldn't change a thing in our writing. It is wonderful. God bless you! Carol
Your message is one of courage and faith in the Lord. Thank God He kept you and your son safe. May he grow up like his mother with the same sort of faith to deal with the harshness of life if it comes his way. Thanks for posting this article.
Yes, the illusion is that we are ever in control. We are sometimes forced to yeild control. I pray that the Lord restores the Mississippi/Louisiana Coasts better than they once stood. I pray that He blesses the inhabitants with strength, love and grace.
Good job on this article, Deborah! I have chosen it to run in the Front Page Showcase for the week of March 5th. Watch for it in the lower left corner of the FW front page. Beautifully written.
Oh Debbie, I love the heart-wrenching honesty of this piece. Your point is well-made. We have no safety apart from God. If only all of New Orleans knew Him as you do. I pray this piece will draw lost sinners into the only true Shelter - Jesus Christ.