A bad boy named Ivan

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

As a 16-year old boy I established the goal of owning a beach home on the Gulf of Mexico.  If you think that’s frivolous for such a young person, I suggest you don’t know me at all.  I learned a valuable life lesson at a very early age:  if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  My dream became a reality for my wife and me 25 years later.  Our little slice of paradise meant so much to us.

However, we feared losing everything to Hurricane Ivan in 2004.  We watched it destroy entire islands as a Category 5 before entering the Gulf of Mexico.  We prepared our home as best we could before being forced by authorities to leave the area.  

Weathermen predicted that Ivan would come ashore about 40 miles due east of our home.  Also, as it approached landfall, the wind speed dropped it to a Category 3.  We started feeling like our home might have a chance.  

Three days before Ivan’s arrival, all the birds in our area headed north.  That’s a really bad sign.  Believe it or not, birds have an instinct for such things, and we immediately realized that Ivan would hit our area and not where the weathermen had predicted.  We prayed for God’s help in this situation, but at the same time we didn’t want harm to come to anyone.  

On the evening before landfall, Ivan made an abrupt turn due east for 40 miles before heading ashore.  At this moment, we felt like our home would be annihilated.  If you check the coordinates of where Ivan made landfall, you’ll find that they match the coordinates of our home to the nearest second.  We received a direct hit!  We expected a total loss.  

After the hurricane passed, it took days before anyone could enter the area.  A neighbor went to another city nearby, rented a boat, and drove it through the Gulf to our development.  He called us and reported that not only was our home still standing, but it had little external damage.  I cannot tell you how remarkable this is.  

Had Ivan come ashore where the weathermen had predicted, our home would have been toast.  Instead, a direct hit saved our home since it remained in the calm eye while inflicting violence for many miles east of us.  

We had leaned on our own understanding of what Hurricane Ivan would do to us.  Instead, our home was graciously spared via a means that we had not expected:  a direct hit.  God was certainly good to us.  

Prayer:  Teach us Your ways God, so that we won’t lean on our own understanding.  Amen. 

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