Hurricane Matthew and an Act of God

Dear Hurricane Matthew:

I am so mad at you. I had a family vacation planned to Hilton Head Island for fall break. It is the PERFECT time of year there, you know? My family doesn’t get a lot of vacation opportunities so I am TICKED that you are taking this away from us.

But Matthew, I am a person with perspective. I learned early that life isn’t fair and superfluous things like cancelled vacations are minor disappointments. My heart is protected and its aches are reserved for the “biggies” in life.

Here is what I know: Matthew, you are an act of God. Your power and the destruction you may cause is understood as something only the great Mother Nature could produce. It is fascinating for me to watch all media outlets plea with the residents of Florida and the eastern seaboard… Matthew, your incoming dominance is undisputed and those in authority are acknowledging your power. “An act of God is coming. We need to be responsible, evacuate, protect ourselves, and ask for prayers.”  

I believe in Al Roker. When that sweet man tells me an ‘act of God’ or an “extremely dangerous storm” is headed in our direction, I am going to listen.

Matthew, as it pertains specifically to you, I am going to respectfully ask that you pull your punch. Our country is in enough pain. A natural disaster would feel like a kick in the shins when we already have a nose bleed. Like all of us, Matthew, God has clearly sent you with a purpose. However, like all of us,we beseech you to use and temper your strength in the best ways possible. If you must flex your muscle, please land at Washington University in St. Louis this Sunday at 9 pm.  An orange man and an angry woman will be debating. Your power could be useful there.

You see, my friend Matthew, you intrigue me because you get introduced as an act of God without any question. And yet, the unfortunate piece of that, is you are perceived as a pretty bad guy.  If you do what you were born to do, you are going to destroy a lot of things and cause a lot of pain.  Matthew, in living out your purpose you may even kill some people. The God that I know doesn’t create bad events, He provides relief.

Matthew, like all of us, you are not responsible for the nicknames you have been given. You didn't ask to be called an act of God. For me, I want to defend that assignment. An act of God is a lot of things and it matters to me that all of those things are not bad things.

For example, an act of God is being present for someone who is struggling. An act of God is loving someone when they seem wholly unloveable.  An act of God is giving your time, your energy, your talent to something worthy. An act of God is saying, “I don’t even know what to say right now, but I am so glad you shared that with me.” It will be many ‘acts of God” that will help the people that may be hurt by the destruction you will cause.

Matthew, I am not going to argue that you are an act of God- something as powerful as you can only be understood by someone as powerful as Him. But since I am mad at you for ruining my vacation, I just want to say this: the assignment of “act of God” shouldn’t be just for something destructive- it is rightfully assigned to something powerful and a lot of those things happen well before us every day.

And Matthew, whenever it is I get back to the beaches of HHI with my family and watch the waves reach the sand and search for the dolphins on the horizon, I am going to hold close to my heart my own definition of act of God.