My first thought upon seeing the comparison was what are the people going to do, stay or go? Although there was an evacuation order, they did both. Most everyone left the area, however some decided to ride it out and stayed. I saw one news reporter ask a person why he was staying, “Well, I have been here for 40 years and this is where I live, and you have to take the bad with the good.” What? No, we don’t. If I pick up a bag of apples and one is rotten, I don’t buy it, I let the store operator know there is a bad apple in the bag. If I want to purchase a pair of shoes and when I open the box one worn out and the other one new, I don’t buy it because they are in the same box. If a carpenter used inferior lumber but covered it up with new siding is that acceptable? It’s the bad with the good so it must be right? But I digress.

I started with how a crisis brings out the best in us, reveals the true leader, shows our strength through adversity, creates out of the box thinking and brings out the best in people as they come to the service of others. And from a personal crisis experience, I know it does. My wife and I were on the receiving end of service to others several years ago when a storm toppled twenty trees in our yard onto our house. When dawn broke, I went outside to begin cleaning up and clearing trees from the house. I took out a ladder, climbed on top of the house to begin cutting away limbs and as I looked toward the front yard there were twenty or thirty neighbors removing debris, cutting away the trees, stacking wood, sweeping, handing out waters to the workers and so forth and so on. Some had brought food, others came offering moral support, and some just to watch but they came to be of service to a neighbor they barely knew, helping in any way they could; giving of their time, talents and resources without expecting anything in return.

When I think about that day it gives me pause and I sometimes wonder why it takes a crisis to shake people awake and cause us to do the things we are supposed to be doing anyway, being of service to others. Maybe it is the times in which we live or that we hoard our privacy to keep people from knowing too much about us, or is it a trust issue within so we keep everyone at a distance or is it that we are afraid our offer of friendship and assistance will not be accepted or think we have to wait to be asked? I am not sure but those neighbors on that day changed my life direction and my desire to help and be of service to others.

Back to Hurricane Irma, we didn’t have to wait long to determine if there would be true leaders, volunteers, and people rushing to the aid of the others in the path of the storm. It started well before Irma arrived and is continuing in the storms aftermath. Shelters opened, people donating food and supplies, workers providing meals, comforting families, opening their homes, vast numbers of workers making their way south into the heart of the devastated cities, all with the same goal and the same mindset, to offer a helping hand.

I am encouraged by our spirit of service. I am encouraged by the leaders in these cities and states stepping up, organizing teams of people, directing, taking responsibility and making the hard decisions to serve others. I am encouraged by the sheer strength and resolve of the people who stepped into harm’s way to be of service and add value to others. It is my prayer today for us not to need a crisis to shake us awake to be of service to each other but to do this through always sharing our faith, love, hope and joy with one another. Matthew 8:23-27

Have a wonderful day,

JD