We love because God first loved us. [1 John 4:19 CEB]
I write this in the midst of Hurricane Ian, looking out the window of the parsonage as the winds are gusting and shaking violently the large tree in our backyard. The rains come and go. Sometimes it’s a drizzle and other times a driving force pelting the windows. And all the time I wonder if it will get worse than this. We still have power, so I try to distract myself by watching mindless TV shows and not the weather reports. But it is tough trying to keep my mind off what is going on outside.
I would guess that this is the fifth major hurricane that the Rideout family has endured. But what is ironic is that when I think back on those storms, most of the memories are of people helping each other and performing acts of love and kindness as we struggled through the storm. After Hurricane Charley hit in 2004, dozens of majestic oak trees in Winter Park were toppled, some damaging homes and cars. But the next morning we saw neighbors banding together with chain saws, helping to remove the wreckage.
In Hurricane Irma, we lost power. But one family from the church came by with their generator to loan us because they had power. After Hurricane Frances, one friend, who was a chef, came to the church and made omelets for those who came to the church for refuge.
I assume the same will happen after Ian makes its journey through our area. What made this experience more bearable is the number of texts that our family received from church members, family, friends, and even Natalie’s work colleagues asking how we are doing. In times of troubles, even in the aftermath of storms, people lean on each other, showing love and kindness. And as Christians we know the source of this great love that can overcome the hurricanes of life. “We love because God first loved us.”