I have been so blessed witnessing God’s people serve one another during the aftermath of the “Cedar Rapids Inland Hurricane of 2020.”

When we got back from our family reunion on the evening of August 10th, we drove into the south part of Cedar Rapids and it looked like a war zone. Just hours before we pulled into town we learned that our area was apparently hit by a derecho (not to be confused with a poncho or a nacho.) A derecho, I’m told, has been best described as an inland level 2 hurricane.

What I do know for sure is that this particular storm packed a wallop, doing massive damage to Cedar Rapids/Marion especially, with lesser damage occuring around a 50 mile radius of our town. There were power lines down everywhere and most every residential and commercial building in our community suffered some form of structural damage. Many families have been displaced from their damaged homes. There were three casualties that we know of and several other people were hospitalized from injuries. Judging by the visible wreckage, it could have been a lot worse.

The picture above shows what winds gusting up to 140 mph did to the tree in our front yard. Yikes! Turns out the Cedar Rapids Derecho that only made national news, as an afterthought two days after it happened*, was actually BIG news for those of us living here.

(*I never saw any news on it. Not because it didn’t receive ample coverage but because we were without power for two weeks. 🙂 )

Let’s shift gears. The rest of my comments concern the really good stuff that may never make national news. I’m talking about a movement of love and service that is palpable friends, and being carried out by our very own citizens right here in “The City of Five Seasons.”

Just a half hour or so after we pulled into our driveway, it started.

When the sun broke through the clouds and a rainbow flickered in the Western sky (I am not making this up), I ran up the street to see if there was a way I could help my son clear a tree from his front yard that had snapped in two blocking his next door neighbor’s driveway. We no sooner started this mammoth task when we were met by about a dozen men running our way from both directions of his street. Some were bringing tools but all were bringing a heart to assist us in the work just because they could and knew Adam’s front yard was where they belonged. (One guy looked like Snoop Dog but I don’t think it was.)

Needless to say, they turned an all day job into one that took less than 45 minutes. Once they finished, they moved on to the next neighbor where help was needed. And the next, and the next, and the…you get the idea.

Wow! Love in action baby! Needless to say, Adam and I were blessed watching it unfold. But it didn’t end that night.

Though most of Cedar Rapids suffered loss from the storm, this “minor inconvenience” hasn’t stopped the many acts of kindness and service rendered by members of our community – many of them Christ followers – but all of them heroes and people who believe in serving someone in need.

There have been recognizable names like Samaritan’s Purse and Eight Days of Hope/Serve the City on the case; groups of volunteers with a specific purpose doing their thing making an organized impact but it’s been more widespread than that, and more spontaneous.

I’ve seen and heard stories of a lot of individuals rejecting despair that could leave them immobilized, and instead choosing to turn their “lemons into lemonade” by intentionally getting out and loving people in practical ways.

By the way, about the uprooted tree in our front yard? It’s gone now. Taken out moments ago by a “band of brothers with chain saws” who chose to remain nameless.

As the song by 7eventh Time Down says, “God is on the move!”

It’s so cool when love in action is seen and felt by a community. Over the past several days, we’ve had opportunity to help others clear their areas. And the opportunities for service will still be all around us I’m sure, in the weeks just ahead of us.

We’ve had a tough five months with the pandemic.  The Cedar Rapids Derecho has added to our challenges locally, but our God is still with us and shows his grace in times like these demonstrated by acts of kindness large and small.

Thanks to all who are serving during the clean-up. The suffering we’ve endured in many ways this year reminds me of one of my favorite Bible verses.

Paul is writing to the church in Rome and he says:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

So which is it, friend? Which sentiment best describes yours when you consider your many blessings?

Take the following two question quiz and see how you do. Pick only one of two options.

Option #1) “I’m lucky I guess. Must be that clean livin’ of mine. God’s probably blessing me because I’m such a good person.”

Option #2)  “God, you’ve been so good to me, way beyond what I deserve. I can not and will not sit on your grace. I am blessed to be a blessing. Will you please use me to bless others in Your name?”

So let’s see how you did with your quiz.

If you picked #1, pick again please. If you picked #2, you passed the quiz. Yaaaay!

Time to prepare to participate in a palpable movement of grace, sharing random acts of love and kindness in these crazy covid days and whatever comes next. You and I have been blessed far beyond what we deserve. And we’re blessed to be a blessing.

And speaking of being a blessing…

Fall Share begins September 29th. Supporting Life 101.9 financially is a way to give back to the community and it allows us to share music every day that uplifts and literally changes lives. It’s music that talks about God’s love for us.

Will you pray about your part now in preparation of Fall Share?  After all, you and I have been “blessed to be a blessing!” Together, you and I can make a difference together.

Happy September!

Tim

Right now, would you take one minute and pray with me for the reopening of our schools?

Let’s pray together.

Video of the month:  “God Is On The Move” by 7eventh Time Down

One Response to "Blessed to be a blessing"

  • Margaret A Scheirman says:

    I love these stories and your take on what’s really going on. Blessings to all! As for me, I am GRATEFUL (for many things, but at the moment, grateful for this outstanding community spirit.) Love makes the world go ’round, as they say. My grandmother would say, “God is with us wherever we go.” And we could add, “No matter what comes our way.” Peace and best wishes for all through the remaining recovery time.

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