Keep Out? Not Always

You see the writing.

The message is clear. Keep out.

Outside Signs, Inside Gifts-Hurricane Michael

Do you stay away?

Messy circumstances can often keep us distant from people who need help. They keep us away from giving a blessing. They keep us away from receiving a blessing.

We were working in this neighborhood in Panama City after Hurricane Michael whipped through. The best spot to set up our trailer and equipment? Across from the graffitied house.

We saw no one there the first day.

But around lunchtime the second day, the owner of the house wandered over. He began talking.

He told us his story. He and his family had decided to stay through Hurricane Michael. At least until early that Wednesday morning, October 11.

It was 5:30 a.m. His phone rang. It was a trusted friend who was in the know.

The message was brief: Tell your family to leave town. Now!

He was wide awake. He immediately called his grown daughter. Get the grandchild out of bed and go! Go west! Go west! She did. He was glad.

He stayed behind. And experienced the worst hurricane of his life.

His first impulse afterwards was to guard the belongings in this house. At all costs.

But now?

He told our volunteers to go in, find something they need. Inside was a collection of goods he once sold.

But now he wanted to give it away.

The keep-out house was inviting us in.

When we judge others by their outside signs, by their looks, by their outer layers, we can miss their deeper gifts.

But if we can just show up, be available, and listen, we’ll discover this: There’s enough of God to go around. For everyone.

* * *

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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10 thoughts on “Keep Out? Not Always

  1. Laurie

    You made such a difference in peoples’ lives after Hurricane Michael. I am awed by your stories. I love this : “There’s enough of God to go around. For everyone.”

  2. Marva | SunSparkleShine

    Lisa, as one who lived through two category 5 hurricanes last summer (a little worse for the wear), I have a new appreciation for possessions and things. Or maybe I should say, I have a greater appreciation for the things of Christ that last.
    I love how you used this story to invite us to take a deeper look. Sometimes just beyond the surface is where the treasure lies and it’s worth taking the time to dig for it.

    Blessings to you and yours this Advent season.

  3. Debbie Kitterman

    Lisa, I will be sharing this post on #TuneInThursday this week … I love how you gently remind us to not judge the outward appearance of things and I am so very glad God sent you to help this area and hear and see the transformation in this man.

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