Lessons from Hurricane Sandy

Marcia Larson Dow JonesMeet 4word woman Marcia Larson, who works as an HR Project Manager (aka Bossypants) at Dow Jones/The Wall Street Journal. Marcia is also a national board member of The Salvation Army, and (self-confessed!) is in love with Tony Blair. She blogged last week about the lessons she’s been learning in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Marcia took some time to tell us more for today’s blog.

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4word: Is Hurricane Sandy the first natural disaster you have experienced?

Marcia: It’s been intense. New Yorkers are all about control; the hurricane reminded us that we’re totally out of control. Getting on the bus to get uptown amidst the flooding, I saw the worst of humanity – total desperation as people crammed on to get out of the disaster area. Marcia Larson, Lessons from Hurricane Sandy

The last few days have reminded me of God’s comfort to us in storms and the incredible value of Christian friendships – so much love and concern has been poured out upon us. Nurturing relationships with a busy corporate schedule is not always something I prioritize, but that’s all we’ve got right now. It’s convicting.

In the end, we’re not thinking about emails, political power plays at work or petty slights. We’re coming together as believers, as a city and even as a community at my company.

4word: I love your blog comment that we need a spiritual preparedness plan as well as a physical preparedness plan for natural disasters. What do you think are some of the key elements of a "spiritual preparedness plan?"

Marcia: There are two primary questions I’d consider.

1) If my life ended today, what would happen to me? If we’re not sure about this ultimate answer, we will be completely paralyzed by the Hurricane Sandys in our lives. The physical hurricanes of life destroy, but so do the spiritual and emotional ones.

2) While I’m here on earth, what am I called to do? The storm was a powerful reminder that if I’m too busy to spend time with someone who’s hurting or too committed at work to spend time in morning prayer, I’m not fulfilling my calling as a believer. God is more concerned with WHO I am than WHAT I do. My to-do list looks incredibly silly right now.

Ultimately, I’m here on earth to glorify Him. Sandy has prompted me to re-visit my calendar and how I spend my money. Lacking power and water, not showering for days, being freezing cold, showing up to work in PJs (that’s all I had!) – the discomforts of the storm made me realize my powerlessness and reliance on the Lord and others. I’m very convicted about living out relational generosity going forward.

4word: For many people, especially us driven career women, it can be tempting to trust in our abilities to provide for us instead of in God. Is this something you've struggled with?

Marcia: Absolutely. I’m a project manager – my job is to foresee risks and plan for them. I love keeping my schedule and organizing my life, and sometimes that means I crowd out God and resent it when He “messes up” my plans. I ignore His gentle whispers and think I’m “doing it” on my own.

Feeling vulnerable right now reminds me of what C.S. Lewis said, “Pain is God’s megaphone to a broken world.” I need to take my hands off my life and accept that my future – the good and the bad – is in the hands of our Sovereign Lord, not in mine!

4word: How have you learned to remind yourself that your security is in God and not in your ability to create success for yourself? Is there anything particular about your experience with Hurricane Sandy that's taught you something new about this issue?

Marcia: Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “Remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” My illusions about taking care of myself and being self-sufficient are completely shattered.

It is only because of God’s hand that I have a job, the education to carry out my job and the opportunities He’s afforded me personally and professionally. He gives, and He can take away via a hurricane or any other means He chooses.

I deserve nothing, yet He’s given me everything (in the spiritual sense.) My security must only be found in the cross – not in my plans. I think Joni Erickson Tada says it best: “Let's be sure we give Jesus praise for who He is and what He does. Not for who we think He ought to be and what we imagine He ought to do.”

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What about you? Have you been in a similar situation that left you feeling powerless? If so, what lessons did you learn? Share with us in the comments.