An app for surviving Harvey

We had just bought our home in Florida about this time last year, when just a month or so later, Hurricane Matthew rampaged through this area.

I was concerned about the state of our home, as we had not yet made the move to the area, so I called my friend Bob who was living here at the time. Bob told me the home was devastated by high winds and rain, even though the hurricane had really not come through this area.

When I asked him in detail what the condition of the home was, he told me that he had moved two of the potted plants which had blown over in the wind into the garage. I asked him what other damage, and he said simply, “That was it!”

Those in the path of Hurricane Harvey have not been so fortunate. With rains and flooding that seem to never quit, there will be untold travesty and damage in the wake of this storm.

How does one survive in situations like Harvey? And how should those who are not in the path of the storm respond?

It is not uncommon for people to shake their fists at God in the midst of things like Hurricane Harvey. The Bible includes the stories of righteous men who questioned God for what they considered poor management of creation.

But some time ago, in October 2007, Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers took his complaints to court. He decided to sue God for “causing untold death and horror” in the form of “fearsome floods … horrendous hurricanes, [and] terrifying tornadoes.”

Furthermore, said the senator, God has wrought “widespread death [and] destruction” and terrorized “millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants.”

Chambers, who filed the suit to make a statement about the American court system, did so in a tongue-in-cheek effort to call out the court system for frivolous lawsuits.

Chambers, who has a history of antagonism against Christians, has no vested interest in his suit against the Almighty.

Nevertheless, the case raises important questions about God’s activity in this broken world.

Is God to blame for poverty, warfare, and natural disaster?

Chambers seems to think so. To him the facts are clear: there is suffering everywhere, and God is everywhere. Therefore, God must cause suffering.

In her book, Unthinkable, reporter Amanda Ripley investigated why some people survive disasters and others don’t.

After examining fires, floods, hurricanes, and airplane crashes, interviewing dozens of survivors, she found three phases on the journey from danger to safety: Denial, deliberation and what she calls “the decisive moment.”

Unfortunately, many people don’t make it to that final phase — the decisive moment. They don’t make a decision to act.

But as an example of the third stage, Ripley tells the story of Paul Heck, a man who knew how to act when his decisive moment came.

On March 27, 1977 the 65-year-old Mr. Heck and his wife were sitting on a Pan Am 747 awaiting takeoff when an incoming plane hurtled through the fog at 160 miles per hour and slammed into their plane. The collision sheared the top off of 747 and set the plane on fire.

Most of the 396 passengers onboard froze. Even Heck’s wife would later report that her mind “went blank” and she felt like “a zombie.”

But Paul Heck went into action mode. He unbuckled his seatbelt, grabbed his wife’s hand said “Follow me,” and then led her through a hole on the left side of the aircraft.

In an interview after the disaster, Mr. Heck noted how most people just sat in their seats acting like everything was fine even after colliding with another plane and seeing the cabin fill with smoke.

But Heck also noted that before takeoff he had studied the 747’s safety diagram.

When the crisis came Heck knew it was a decisive moment. He was prepared to make a decision and head for the only exit that was available to him.

As I read that story, I began to think about how many times, as a fairly experienced air traveler, I have ignored the flight attendants as they review the contents of the safety diagram in the pocket of the seat in front of me. But there is no such diagram in the case of hurricanes or other disasters, is there?

Well, now, let it be known, there is an app for that!

It really does not matter what the natural disaster or emergency situation is, the SAS Survival Guide iPhone app takes the bestselling book by John “Lofty” Wiseman and puts it into digital form.

Wiseman was a British soldier of the Special Air Service who wrote a best-selling book on SAS Survival. This app is jam-packed with extremely useful and potentially life-saving information, videos, and other tips and tricks for how to survive when the worst and unexpected happen.

But you know, there is an even more comprehensive guide to helping us cope with hurricanes and the like.

It is called the Bible!

Yes, it shows us that God is everywhere. But it also shows us that sinful human beings are all around us – even inside of “us”, but it also shows that if we have prepared for that decisive moment by trusting in Jesus Christ alone (See Romans 6:23), we will be ready to face whatever situation we are in with confidence, with courage, and with hope, no matter what!

God bless …

Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Times-Gazette and the News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Port William UMC.

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Chuck Tabor Contributing columnist Tabor Contributing columnist