You lift me up on the wind; you make me ride on it, and you toss me about in the roar of the storm. (Job 30:22 ESV)
Eight years and two days ago the landscape of the Mississippi/Louisiana coast and memories of the people who lived there changed forever. Many have reflected, recollected, and written about the effects of what took place and where we are today.
At the age of fourteen onward, I attended youth camp at a place called Gulfshore Baptist Assembly. I subsequently spent the three summers of my college tenure working as summer support staff for the many camps and conferences they hosted. Where it was positioned on Henderson Point in Pass Christian, MS was basically ground zero for Hurricane Katrina and the storm surge which ensued.
The buildings of the assembly had been built in response to the devastation caused by hurricane Camille in 1969. When we were given the run-down of the “worst-case-scenario” of a category 3 storm giving an almost direct hit, we were told we (as a summer staff) would be back picking up debris within two weeks. Two weeks after we had signed off for the summer of 2005, Katrina hit, and we never came back.
On a summer night at the age of fourteen, I responded in an invitation to enter full time Christian ministry. I remember that night clearly. I remember feeling like a ball of fire had hit my chest, I recall the tears, and praying with our chaperone, and her turning to Psalm 90 and reading it over me, as I knelt at a blue-fabric bench in the hallway outside the auditorium doors. I remember walking down the sidewalk outside the auditorium to the main building, trembling with excitement and shouting at the top of my lungs. It was a night that forever changed the track of my life (much like a sporadic hurricane).
For my summer years as a college student, oftentimes, I would go back to this very spot – many times to weep and pray. I looked forward to finding a place that for me was something like a stone of remembrance (see Joshua 4). But on August 29, 2005, that bench and the building surrounding it, was washed out in to the Gulf of Mexico.
As saddened as I was, I came to realize that what had taken place in my life had a more grounded place deep in my soul than any tear-stained bench in any stucco building on any piece of property anywhere. Though I no longer had a place to return to, what God had done in my life had not changed.
What marks the spot where God has wrought a work in your life? That is something even a hurricane cannot change.
you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5 ESV)
The sign outside the auditorium where the letters have washed away.
Me, standing in 2008, in approximately the spot where the bench was where I prayed to answer the call in to the ministry.