We have seen this forecast before

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Training to become a pilot (in what seems like another lifetime ago) I was quickly taught that you cannot control what is outside the cockpit. You can only prepare on how you could respond.

Metaphorically it has proven to be an outstanding life lesson if you substitute “your heart” for “cockpit.”

As the National Hurricane Center has issued an early forecast for the possibility of a storm to hit the greater Tampa Bay area by next Wednesday — and our Governor has now declared a preemptive state of emergency for Sarasota and Manatee Counties — none of us can control what the weather will be like in the coming 5 days.

But you can prepare on how you could respond.

We have seen this forecast before. And I’d give even odds on whether we get hit by a hurricane or whether it pushes further west and we end up with sunny skies. But the opportunity to love our neighbors well is what is strategic.

What’s in my list of hurricane preparedness?

1) It’s a great time to engage people on what ultimately matters. Storms have a way of sobering us. And humbling everyone. Few things help us feel our smallness like raging winds and the loss of electrical power. When these things that we cannot control crash in upon us, we can only prepare on how we could respond — emotionally, spiritually, and relationally.

2) Don’t panic. It’s fruitless and wasted emotional energy. Even if the instinct to panic wells up inside, take a spiritual inventory and ask, “Why does this bother me so much?”  And against that concern, ask, “What is the foundation for my security in Christ, no matter what happens to my circumstances?”  This isn’t the first storm to hit. And it surely won’t be the last unless Jesus returns next week. But timelessly, both for now and forever, in Christ we are safe. Trusting in Him, we are forgiven and declared righteous. No one and no thing can snatch us out of the Father’s hand. So reason with your fears and spiritually and mentally fight your way to solid ground in Jesus.

3) Look around you. Who in your life needs your care? Who next door or on your street might need a hand? And if your power goes off, who else right around you might be affected just the same and possible suffer worse than you? How can you prepare ahead of time to love them well and be a Christ-like neighbor? Because Jesus joyfully disadvantaged Himself to advantage us, we can now embody His love and grace to our neighbors. And thinking ahead before things are crazy may mean more to them than you know.

No one but the LORD knows if we’ll get hit by a storm next Wednesday. We cannot control what is outside the cockpit. We can only prepare on how we could respond.