First of all this morning we want to give thanks to God. In the past few weeks a whole lot has happened. Praise should be on our lips and thanksgiving should be coming from our hearts — everything that has breath reading ought to be praising the Lord (Psalm 150).
In fact, it should have started the moment we woke up this morning. The fact that we are still here is reason enough to start a praise fest.; Despite the loss of some things, despite the traumatic experiences, despite the fact that Laurinburg experienced something that it has never experienced before, we owe God a praise. Can we just take a few seconds this morning and verbally give our God some thanks?.
Some of you, I know your story. The traumatic experiences you endured, one that you will never forget, but it’s a testimony to the goodness of the Lord. Despite the losses he brought us through. The churches all over Scotland and surrounding counties should be full on Sunday morning, people showing up just to give thanks.
Now my beloved community, we may not know this, but there’s a message in every storm. They don’t come for no reason. But the question is, do we get it? God does not inflict willingly, he takes no pleasure in watching his children go through pain and loss unnecessarily. But for some it’s the only way to get their attention. Sometimes people have to be shook up, because they don’t get it. Not everybody, but some. So the question we all need to ask ourselves is, God what are you saying? And what are you saying to me?
This morning we are reminded of a storm, and it is never a good thing when we hear that word. Fear grips our hearts when we hear that word. Anything that is turbulent in our lives causes torment and pain; anything that is bad and stressful is put into the category of a storm; when we say “I’m in a storm,” it automatically says to somebody that things are not good in our lives.
Storms destroy and they affect people mentally, emotionally and psychologically. Community, admit this morning, that if you could have avoided some of the storms that you have come through you would have done so. You might appreciate them now on this side, but if you had your way a lot of the storms you came through you would have avoided. But that’s why God orders the steps of his children (Psalm 37:23); he orders them so that we don’t have a choice — and so it is with the natural storm.
Three weeks ago many of us saw this as we were caught up in Hurricane Florence. It affected all of us either directly or in-directly, and because we are a community family, when one of us are going through it affects all of us. Being caught up in the storm myself that week, as all of us were, I observed the chaos and panic to a certain degree of people scrambling trying to find non-perishable items, water and bread, batteries, lanterns, flashlights in case of power outages. People were frustrated and some angry and tempers began to flare because certain items were hard to find. The word storm frightens some people — they get in a hurry, some will knock you over, they’ll run over you, and some will tell you some words.
People will get ready for a natural storm. They’ll stand in long lines; they’ll scramble like ants, pushing and shoving; they’ll get ready for bad weather — and they should. But it grieves my heart when I see them wandering with nowhere to go like sheep without a shepherd.
Community, it burdens me to a certain extent to see people who in life are making ready for a natural storm but are making no preparation at all to meet Jesus Christ. Jesus said (paraphrasing), “Whosoever comes to me and hears my word, and does them … is like a man which built a house and dug deep, and laid the foundation on a rock.” And when Hurricane Florence came, and the waters beat hard against that house, and could not shake it — for it was gripped by a rock.
But they that hear his word and do it not, is like a man without a foundation that builds his home on the sand … and when Hurricane Florence came and beat against that house, it fell immediately, and the damage of that house was great (Luke 6:47-49).
Community, I’m the meteorologist this morning, and here is the forecast: Rain is coming; make sure your anchor holds and grips the solid rock (Jesus). “The storm is coming; what are you going to do?”
Rev. George Ellis is pastor at Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church.