Hurricane _________. (Insert your name here)

“Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord…and after the earthquake a fire…and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.” — 1 Kings 19:11-12

This is not a devotion about Hurricane Sandy.

It’s about Hurricane Yours Truly. Hurricane Mitch.

In 1998, Hurricane Mitch swept across the Atlantic and killed more than 11,000 people. It was the most destructive hurricane in the Western Hemisphere in over 200 years. And I shared the same name with that beast! That was a long summer for me.

Having the same name as a hurricane makes you think, though. Makes you ask questions, like, “Are there other things I share in common with a hurricane? Are there ways in which I’m destructive?”

I think back through my life, and, yes, I’ve left some damage in my path. I have regrets about the ways I’ve mistreated people, walked over people, hurt people. Hurt myself.

What about you? Do you have any hurricane traits in you? When you lose your temper do you tend to mess with anyone that gets in your way? Are there times your actions or words do unnecessary damage?

Or maybe you have a hurricane raging inside yourself, doing deep damage to the hidden parts of you.

Most of us can think back to some hurricane times when we’ve hurt ourselves or others and literally spun out of control. Those times happen when we’re stressed, afraid, or backed into a corner. Remember, hurricanes form when pressure mounts!

When you get to feeling that way, remember that God is with you. God is there, in that quiet place inside you, like the eye of a hurricane, urging you to be still.

Human beings aren’t just forces of nature. We are called to be forces of grace. We are tied in to God, connected to God’s love. When human beings stick together and care for each other, we can spin grace out into the world, instead of destruction.

With God’s help, we can greatly reduce the number of human hurricanes that get produced.

And so, I hope that you will continue to pray for hurricane victims this week…

And if you know anyone named Sandy, give them a great big hug.

Have a great week,

Mitch

SANDY RELIEF:  100% of what you give goes to those in need: no administrative costs. Donate to United Methodist Committee On Relief, Advance #901670, and select Hurricanes 2012 from the drop-down menu. You can also text the word RESPONSE to 80888 to give an immediate $10 donation.

You may recognize this devotion…it’s modified from one I wrote for a hurricane in 2005. So if you know any Katrina’s, give them a hug too! 🙂

Neat Freaking Out

’Slovenliness is no part of religion.’Cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness.’”  –John Wesley

I’m a neat freak.

Every morning I get up and make the bed.   I pick up the dirty clothes.  Then I spruce up the bathroom and empty the trash.    Occasionally I wipe down the mirrors so there aren’t any streaks.  Every few mornings I vacuum.   It’s a kind of ritual I have…

And it’s killing me.

You see, I am NOT, by nature, a neat freak–this trait has recently been imposed upon me.   In fact, I’m something quite a bit on the other side of the spectrum.  My mother couldn’t teach me to be this neat.  My father couldn’t.  Even my patient wife has all but given up on me being neat.

But my realtor?  She was somewhat more successful.  I believe her words to us were, “Now, are you going to be the kind of a family that needs a whole day’s notice before we show your house, or one hour’s notice?”   I eagerly said, “Have them call us any time.  We can be ready for a showing in 15 minutes!”

Yep, we’re trying to sell our house.  And even my wife, who likes things generally more clean than I do, is feeling the strain.  (Being a Lert can get old after a while!)

If we’re ever to sell our house, we’ve got to keep things in tip top shape.   We want people to experience this home as a thing of beauty, and so I find myself going against my own human nature for the sake of the Big Picture.

It’s got me wondering…

Does God expect me to be this clean in my spiritual life?  Does God expect me to be super assertive and mindful of my own sins and shortcomings?  If so, then being a Christian is a lot more work than many of us realize.   Every day, saying my prayers, reading my Bible?  Every day, helping those in need, loving my neighbors and even my enemies?  Every day, staying vigilant about discipleship? That’s hard! Especially for those of us whose human nature inclines them to be a little bit lazier.

I guess the Good News is that Christ is a bit like our realtor.   Helping us figure out how to get the most out of life.  Holding us to some standards.  Helping us make our lives worth showing to others.

Truth be told,  we’re about six weeks in now, and I’ve gotten in the groove a bit.   I’ve made my bed for the most consecutive days in my life, I’m sure.  And even though there’s stress as we wonder when somebody will buy our place (3517 SW Westport Drive Topeka, KS, in case you’re looking!), my wife and I are trying hard not to freak out.   After all, certainly there are advantages to living in a spotless house, just as there are advantages to trying to live a spotless life.

And when we fall short, Christ is ready to forgive us and help us clean up and move on.

That’s good to know…

Because you should see my office!

Have a Great Week,

Mitch