I just spoke to a dear friend who, with his wife, lives in New Bern, NC. If you followed the saga of Hurricane Florence you will recognize the name of that city of 30,000 which was not only the first capital of North Carolina, but also has the dubious distinction of being the birthplace of Pepsi Cola.
This beautiful Southern town lies near the Atlantic Ocean and at the confluence of two leisurely rivers. That is, pre-Florence leisurely. In some mountainous up-country areas Hurricane (aka tropical storm) Florence discharged as much as 40” of rain, which set coastal North Carolina virtually afloat. Disaster. Our friends’ home was built in the early days of the city’s founding in what might be called Lower New Bern. Not good.
About the time the storm arrived, we phoned them. They have a very nice cabin in the mountains some five hours away and they were already there. There was no sunshine there either, but at least there was electricity and water. Three days later we called again. What had they heard about their home in New Bern?
Not much, actually, and what they had heard wasn’t very encouraging. Some neighbors had reported that their beautiful remodeled house and garage were currently squatting in three feet of water. No wind damage obvious, but the house wouldn’t be accessible for a while and probably wouldn’t be habitable for quite a long time. Water damage. Mud. Debris. And a little item called mold.
Then, an interesting thing happened in our conversation…I couldn’t get him to talk about the house. Or about the late model Lexus half-submerged in 3’ of water in his driveway. All my friend wanted to talk about was those who died in the flood – the infant, the children, the families who would now always have an empty chair at their table. He talked about the tradespeople whose jobs had gone away for the foreseeable future. About those who, for whatever reason, had no flood insurance on their homes. He had tears in his voice.
Finally I interrupted and said, “You’re talking about your neighbors and residents in the city; I called to talk about you.” He replied, “As the storm approached and we scampered here to the mountains, we began to pray for the people of our state. I don’t think we ever prayed for our house or the car in the driveway, we only prayed for those who would suffer serious loss. We knew we would only lose ‘stuff.’ There would be inconvenience and some tears, but we knew our losses would be nothing compared to what many would lose. So we prayed for them.”
That came from the heart of an intercessor. Followers of the One who, in the throes of an excruciating death could pray, “Father, forgive them…” Perhaps it’s true then that intercession at its heart is the most unselfish of deeds.
By Don Jacobsen