The Wrong Side of the Storm

We are scattered by storms, and we are gathered by storms. Our storms may be physical or political, economic or spiritual. Sometimes, we are battered by a nasty confluence of all four. Whatever their nature, storms force us to move.

And Hurricane Sandy certainly moved us.

Yesterday, Carter Conlon, the lead pastor at NYC's Times Square Church, was moved to lead a very different Tuesday evening service. It was billed as an Emergency Broadcast. In a small room, 20 church members joined their pastor for a live video feed.

Pastor Carter had already visited his home in New Jersey. Horrible destruction. But he wasn't overly concerned about that. He knows what it's like to lose everything. He's already watched that happen a few times in his life.

Something else was pressing on his heart.

After Jesus and his disciples had fed the 5,000, they encountered a great storm at sea, one which gave even veteran fishermen pause. This storm likely left its mark on land as well as sea.

I had never considered that.

Perhaps his disciples would have liked to turn around, Conlon said, grab those leftover baskets and hunker down with their own friends and family. Human nature will seek to divide men into camps: us and them. Crises mode means taking care of ourselves.

But Jesus doesn't operate like that. Christ stepped out of the boat and moved toward people in need. And the people recognized Him and ran toward Him because they knew He hadn't come to judge them. He came to love.

And then pastor Conlon posed a question for today's church: what do we look like “on the other side of the storm?” What does the world see?

“Do we move towards the need?”

Storms may force us to move in all sorts of directions. But storms ought not compel us to flee, turn back or grow insular. And certainly we ought not “point fingers” or pour salt on anyone's wounds by “speaking empty vanities”.

Maybe all storms lead to God. But the truest seeking of God, says Conlon, will lead us toward human suffering and need.

It is not enough to be moved by tragic storms. We must move toward them.

Or else we look like castaways, sitting on the wrong side of the storm.



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7 thoughts on “The Wrong Side of the Storm

  1. Such a good word here. Many around us have no power still, and we’re seeing the continued effects of the storm. I can feel the way my heart grows hard when I turn insular, become a spectator rather than a servant. Thank you for this.

  2. Mathew what a great question to think about as my day goes on…
    It goes so well with the thesis I am writing concerning Samuel Johnson’s ‘The Vanity of Human Wishes’. All week I have been debating on whether I should touch on the Christian bent that he focuses on at the end of his poem since my British Lit professor is a very outward proclaiming atheist. Your post has convinced me that I should not shy away from addressing the parts I feel back up my thesis. Mainly as you said, ” grow insular.” Growing insular is one of the evil drawbacks of vanity and becoming more compassionate minded helps those vain desires to become less of a focus.
    I thank you always for always sharing what is in your heart.

      • Definitely love… I wrote a post on Hurricane Sandy- based on the horrendous reaction that people on FB had based on a picture of some poor New Yorkers dumpster digging for food. People were so reprehensibly negative and blaming politicians and bashing on each other. I wish that when the storms come- spiritually or physically that people could pull that love front and forward.

        My heart goes out to Annie, my fellow New Yorkers and the rest of the eastern coast citizens. May they find that peace and get the help they so deservedly need. Prayers to all.

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