Heads down! Stay down!


Maybe you’ve seen the movie, “Sully.” It’s the dramatic portrayal of Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger’s emergency landing of a commuter jet on the Hudson River.

When Sully realizes that the best option for survival is to put the plane down on the Hudson River, he announces, “Brace for impact!” Then the flight attendants walk through the cabin shouting,

“Brace for impact! Heads Down! Stay Down!”

The passengers are alarmed but put their heads down as directed. The flight attendants keep shouting,

Heads down! Stay down! Heads down! Stay down!

That scene has played in my memory several times over the last 24 hours. As the professional weather watchers realized Hurricane Matthew was shifting toward the coast of Florida and turning into a Category 4 hurricane whose brush with landfall would bring it about 45 miles from us, they alerted the authorities that sprang into action. And just like those flight attendants, they wore serious faces and broadcast serious instructions! “Heads Down! Stay Down!” translated into

Go home! Stay home!

With the declaration of 36-hour curfew, reality sunk in. It was probable that Hurricane Matthew was going to come quite close. Our trees could be uprooted, shingles would fly off houses, windows could break, and lots of stuff would need to be fixed. We filled our bathtubs. We checked the batteries in our flashlights. We prepared to defend our home against the elements! We prepared ourselves to clean up a mess.

Go home! Stay home!

When I woke up this morning and realized that Matthew had veered east and decreased in intensity just before it would have hit us, I was awed. For some reason, the One who calms the wind and the rain had turned the storm away from us!

At a minimum I expected to be serenaded by howling winds through the night. I anticipated a mess with no power or water, certainly a good bit of destruction. So I was relieved. The danger had been very real. I mean, when Disney closes up shop….

Preparation is the word in my head today…for some time I’ve been planting the words of John 13-17 in my memory, my heart and my soul. As I reviewed those words today, I saw them from a new angle: preparedness. In those chapters Jesus is preparing his friends for the trouble that was coming. The disciples were anxious. Jesus repeatedly tells them to choose to trust, to not fear. The process of preparation was developing in them the very skills, the very faith that would enable them to stand firm in the future.

“What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end,

God sees as the goal itself.Oswald Chambers.

I often think that it is the “thing” I’m preparing for that is so important. Could it be that the process of preparation is in itself important? It is where the learning takes place.

I’m sure the passengers of US Airways Flight 1549 spent some time reflecting on their experience. They had prepared for impact. And then they raised their heads up and surveyed the situation. I can only imagine what that must have felt like.

And so... Orlando breathed a sigh of relief today when it was announced that the Disney parks reopen on Saturday. Life goes on!

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