Hurricane Katrina

    Hi.  I’m Jean M.  Many of you know that my husband and I have recently moved back to Annapolis after living on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi for the last four years.  I have been in BSF for nine years, and I have never before contributed on Sharing Night.

 I have many God stories relating to Katrina that I could tell you, but the one I’m going to tell you is about the Sovereignty of God.  It’s a short story, but it covers approximately 8 months, and didn’t seem so short while we were going through it.

  On Saturday, August 27th, 2005, when it became known that Katrina was heading through the Gulf of Mexico instead of north along the west coast of  Florida, my husband and I evacuated to his uncle’s house in Gainesville, FL.  On Sunday, August 28th, the day before Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, we went to church with his aunt and uncle.  The pastor that morning, preached on Genesis 41, the chapter where Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams.  He called that sermon ‘Dreams, Detours, and Destiny’.  He talked about Providence :  God rules in and over all things.  And he spoke about how to keep on when things seem to go wrong.  And he used Romans 8:28 to illustrate how God works together in all things for good to them that love Him and are called according to His purpose. 

  As I always do when we are visiting another church, I made a notation in my bible next to Gen 41 of the church, the city, the pastor’s name, and the title of his sermon.

 The next day, Monday, August 29th, we lost our home, one car, all our furniture and possessions to Katrina.    However, having counseled many individuals on the ‘rights of ownership’ through the financial ministry we have been involved with for about 8 years now, we were able to truthfully say, “It’s all God’s.  We are just stewards.  Everything we possessed belonged to Him.  We had a lot of stuff, but, it was all just stuff.  And it was God’s stuff, anyway.”  The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

 For the next 8 months, my husband and I lived with friends, who weren’t Christians.  They opened their home to us, showed us exceeding kindness, and provided a place for us to recover, while we discerned what God would have us do.  The Gulf Coast looked like a bomb had gone off.  The devastation was far reaching.  Emotional pain was on everyone’s face. 

 Because my BSF class in south Mississippi would not start up until after Christmas (our Teaching Leader’s house was flooded as were the houses of many Discussion Leaders.  The church where we met had suffered some damage but was housing displaced church members (rich and poor) and volunteer workers).  So, I joined the BSF class in Mobile, Alabama .  It was about a 55 minute drive for me – but it was worth it.

 My husband and I prayed and prayed about what God would have us do.  And there were many others who were praying for us all over the United States.  We finally decided around Christmas time that my husband would look for work within his company, but in another state.  So he applied for jobs in four other locations.

 In the meantime, a long process of waiting continued.  I never questioned Katrina and the aftermath.  I did, however, continually wonder (and pester God about) when this ‘trial’ would be over.  It seemed to go on forever.  My life was on hold.  I was living in someone else’s house.   I had nothing of my own except a few clothes and our two vehicles.  My husband continued to send out resumes and interview for jobs.  The waiting continued.  In many ways, my journey paralleled the journeys of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  I was challenged to trust God, submit to His will, and remain steadfast.  God was stretching me and growing me.  The waiting continued.  I wondered WHEN God would release us.

 Finally, my husband accepted a job in Annapolis, and on April 21st, we packed our clothes and a few other things into our vehicle and left Mississippi for Maryland.  Now, Katrina had sent all of my bibles down the street, except the one I had taken with me to Gainesville when we evacuated.  But since then, I have purchased several other Bibles.  One I’m particularly fond of has four different versions in it, side by side.  One is a smaller Bible that I carried to BSF with me. And there are a few others.  I really wanted to take the 4-version Bible with me because that’s my favorite when I am doing my lesson.  So, I took that one in my hand.  But, I thought, it is so large, I should take the smaller one because it takes up less space. And space was at a premium in our little car.  So, I put the 4-version Bible back and I put out my hand to take that one.  Then, I said to myself, no, I’ll take ’Old Faithful’, my NIV which has all my notes in it and underlining and highlighting.  I have a leather case I carry it in.  Yes, that’s my comfort Bible.  That’s the one I always take with me on trips.  It’s the one that makes a big, black, dense blob on the airport security screen and then the security guard has to open my carry-on and see what the big, black, dense blob is.  And he always ends up with the Bible in his hands.  Isn’t that great?  That always brings a smile to my face.  So that’s the one I inevitably took.

 Now, my BSF class in Mobile met on Thursdays, and the Annapolis EW class meets on Mondays.  So, I knew I would need to get my lesson finished in 4 days.  My husband was driving the car and I opened up my BSF folder and got out my lesson – Lesson 28.  I decided I would work on the questions for Day 2 through Day 6 and then go back and read the notes and answer Day 1 if I had time.

 So, Lesson 28, Genesis 41.  I opened up ‘Old Faithful’ to Genesis 41.  There on the page next to the Chapter heading, was my note from the Pastor’s sermon in Gainesville, FL, from August 28, 2005, the day before Katrina struck.  ‘Dreams, Detours, and Destiny’.  We did have a dream before Katrina that involved our financial ministry.  In fact we had just completed the training the week before Katrina.  We were detoured.  And now our destiny lay before us.  My heart almost exploded out of my chest.  I knew in that instant, the sovereignty of God like never before.  I knew without a doubt that He knew the exact day back on August 28th that we would be leaving  Mississippi, even though I didn’t know.  And He knew that on that day when we left Mississippi I would be doing my BSF Lesson 28 – Genesis 41.  And He knew which Bible I needed to take with me so I would read that note to myself from August 28th, and that I would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is Almighty, Sovereign God.  That He brought me through this.  That I would know that He had a plan for me from before the beginning.  (In this case, before Katrina.)  So that I could share this message with you.  He is Almighty Sovereign God.  His plans and purposes will prevail. 

 And like, Jacob who wrestled with God, some extraordinary thing happens to someone who holds on to the love of God when the odds are totally against you.  When Satan would have you believe that if God did love you, you wouldn’t be going through this trial.

 And when I finally got around to reading the notes for Chapter 28, that whole 1st section on Joseph’s suffering – I labeled that ‘our Katrina journey’.  A short quote – “Trials entrusted to God’s child are like the closed bud of a flower that, when brought into the sunshine of His presence, opens to reveal the golden glory of maturity for which it was created.  This is what Paul means when he says in Romans 5:3-5 that we glory in trials because they result in experience.  This past experience of how God has blessed us in a particular suffering and brought us through it, richer than before, causes us to hope……..God tenderly loves us.”

 Blessed be the Name of the Lord.  To Him be all the Glory, Honor and Power. 

 Jean M.

May, 2006 

Editor's Note:  BSF is Bible Study Fellowship International 

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