Monday, November 23, 2009

The Beast from the Northeast

The Nor'Easter of 2009 at the Crabtree home

If you know where we live, you know that we just experienced one of the worst Nor'easters in this region in over a decade... four days of gale-force winds, high tides and heavy downpours that came to visit us from the remnants of hurricane Ida, November 11-14. Facing the northeast on the southern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, our house gets pummeled by these storms that, due to their tendency to loiter for days at a time, dump more rain and can cause more tidal flooding and wind damage than a hurricane. Although not unscathed, we survived the storm better than many along the coast.

Friends of ours not only lost a good portion of their protective dune, but had significant water infiltration, loss of power, a house fire ignited by a power surge, subsequent smoke damage, and the headache of a major clean-up. Other friends situated more inland had to deal with a gigantic oak tree that could no longer resist the wind and soil-loosening rains, crashing into their home with destructive force. Others were displaced or stranded by rising tidal flood waters, power outages, and/or direct structural damage from the storm. (For related videos of the damage, click here.)

By comparison we count ourselves fortunate to have suffered relatively minor damages so that we will not need to make an insurance claim. We never lost power and, due to the deposit of a large mass of vegetative debris from the Bay, have the potential for expansion of the protective dune barrier in front of our house. The tidal flooding never reached our home. Even our weather vane survived peak gusts of over 75 MPH.

In addition we were blessed with the timely arrival of Dr. Rod and Jeannie Mirich, dear friends from Danville, KY that we have known since our years in residency training back in Southern California. Aware of my impaired ability to keep up with the physical demands of several different projects around the house, they had planned this visit to help in whatever way needed long before the storm was even forecast. They were a God-send! Together we accomplished in a few days clean-up and spruce-up tasks that would have taken me weeks to complete on my own. And, of course, the fellowship was sweet.

Adjacent to our home is a public park on the Bay where the city stationed massive dumpsters, allowing citizens to bring storm debris for more convenient disposal. It was heart-breaking to see families discarding flood- and/or wind-damaged belongings, including mattresses, furniture, carpet, etc. I chided myself as I recalled how much I bemoaned the theft of a couple of bicycles from our garage earlier this year...

I am reluctant to admit it, but the experience has reminded me of how prone I am to allow material things to own me, rather than the other way around. You would think that, facing a terminal diagnosis, I would have learned that lesson! Of course the truth is that we own nothing in this world -- not really. All the physical things we enjoy are but a loan. Ultimately, they can be repossessed by the bank, claimed by the government to settle an unforeseen tax liability or by the imposition of powers of imminent domain. Genuine ownership is an illusion. We are but caretakers of everything we "own".

The Bible teaches that in reality God owns it all. We read in Psalms: "For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is Mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is Mine, and all it contains." (Psalms 50:10-12) Once I get my mind wrapped around this truth, I recognize I am but a custodian of things on loan from God... including my next breath! If I will but live that way, I will know true freedom from anxiety and disappointment. (Matthew 6:25-33)

The real beast does not come from the northeast... rather from the backwaters of my own heart. If I will but choose to rely on the steadfast character of God's love, I will withstand and overwhelm any tsunami of physical loss. "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (See Romans 8:35-39)

Ever more grateful for that which He has entrusted to us...
Dr Dan


  1. Love the choice of background music! Very appropriate. :)

  2. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family this week, and may God give you all the blessings that you deserve. Our prayers are with you and your family at this time. Rejoice and enjoy the wonderful blessed day with your loved ones. God bless you all.

    Susan Burtin (Wahl)