Betsy Was My First


Betsy was my first.  She rolled over me like a hurricane; because she was, well…a hurricane.  Did you think something different? Shame.

I was a kid living with my family in a mobile home in Biloxi, Mississippi.  You can call it a trailer if you want, but it was home to us.  My Dad was in the Air Force and we lived in a mobile home park near the base.

But then we heard Betsy was coming to town.  Since she was my first (hurricane…minds out of the gutter, please) I didn’t really know what to expect.  Then my parents announced that we were going to stay with some friends who lived in sturdier housing on the Air Force base.  [Brick houses are apparently harder for hurricanes to spot and toss than mobile homes…which seem to have giant bullseyes painted on top of them to alert incoming storms.]

So we went to the base and sheltered in our friends’ house and felt/saw/heard the hurricane roll over the top of us.  Betsy was thunderously deafening and marvelous in her might.  Trees bent; dogs flew by ala Toto of Oz fame (just kidding…I didn’t see any dogs fly by, but I’m sure they could have); anything not battened down (hatch or otherwise) took off to decorate the darkened sky (and the occasional tree).

Miraculously, the storm softened and then stopped.  One minute it was lambasting us with its might and, in the next few minutes, it was a whisper of its former self.  All us kids who were confined to quarters asked if we could go outside but we were told, “No!”  “Why?” (the question all kids learn first and never relinquish).

Because, we were told, it was only the eye of the storm passing over us.  A mysterious oasis of serenity in motion with the direction of the storm that, for a few moments, provided a deep calm…an opportunity to assess preliminary damage and regroup.  Then Betsy emerged again…on the other side of the eye…and beat us with her steady battery of meteorological mischief.  And then she was gone.

Back to the mobile home park we went; assessing the damage to our home (minimal) and marveling at the way Betsy had decided to upend other trailers and be so arbitrary with her mischief.

I am not the first Christian to hope for respite in the middle of storms nor the first to comment on such.  And not all life storms follow the somewhat predictable paths of hurricanes.  But I do look for the “eye.”

I think I keep getting confused, though.  I often think that the eye is a set of settled circumstances somehow immune from the destructive power of gale force winds.  I keep thinking that jobs or homes or churches or other people will be that calming center when the weather hits hard.  I fall for the “myth of the stable state” and keep thinking that just around the corner is the kind of settled, storm-free existence for which I long.

I keep forgetting that the “eye of the storm” is not a circumstance; it’s a person–Jesus.  Jesus can calm the storms…BUT (yes, all caps on purpose)…most often…He seems to call us to Himself for calming within the storm.  In a hurricane, the storm moves in its directions of vagary; but the “eye” moves too.  And…from within the eye…you can see the destructive power literally rain down around you…and yet be surefooted…right there in the middle of the storm…until the storm subsides.

I know it’s crazy…and I don’t advocate seeking out a storm to test this theory.  But next time the storm hits:  crazy life, tragedy in the family, disappointments with fellow saints (do not get me started), illness, whatever…run to Jesus.  The “eye” is not a plan or a place; the “eye” is the Great “I AM.”  The “eye” is Jesus.  He will move you through the storm; He will track the safest path; He will dry the rain of tears; He will clear the debris; He will let you see your way through (the way is almost always through…not out…not around…but through).

Betsy was my first…but not my last.

“In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world”

(John 16:33).

© All rights reserved.  Scripture quotations from the NIV.


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2 replies

  1. What a great analogy! And I’m so glad you and your family came through Betsy.

  2. That was very inspiring and very timely as in the Philippines where I live, we have a typhoon rght at this very moment. We all experience “storms” in a myriad of different ways but indeed, with the help of God, we are able to conquer it with great victory. God bless you and your family Howard.

Luke 21:36 "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."

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