IT COULD HAVE BEEN ME                                                                                                          Andy Hollifield 12-16-17

Lamentations 3:21-26 This I recall to mind, therefore have I hope. (22) It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. (23) They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (24) The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. (25) The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. (26) It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.

Verse 22 is the one that always gets my attention. As I looked at the pictures I shared on my page of Rockport, Texas almost 4 months after Hurricane Harvey made landfall there; I cannot help but think: it could have been me. It could have been me and my family that were evacuated and later returned to find the pieces of what once was our lives scattered all over the neighborhood and beyond. A lot of things with little or no dollar value but the emotional value would be priceless. You may think I am being overly dramatic but I assure you that I am not. I have been there and seen some of the devastation firsthand. I will give you dramatic: one young mother I talked to in Refugio, Texas told me how her and her family hid, hunkered down in their home watching in horror as their roof raised up off of the top of the walls and then sat back down several times. Now that is real drama and I am sure it is more than her and her family ever wanted to be a part of. Yet when asked how they made it through the storm, her reply was, “we did alright.” I am afraid that I might not have as positive of an outlook and attitude as she had. I spoke with one man at the Eagle’s Nest in Woodsboro that told me he had lost his home and pretty much all he owned except his dogs. He also said he was doing alright because he had a job house-sitting for a couple of weeks. I was in Ocean Springs, Mississippi 6 days after Katrina hit and I saw the stunned looks and shock on the faces of people whose lives and history had just been blown away. Then, as I made several more trips, I also began to see that die-hard resolve that they would be alright. I saw that same resolve in Texas. I have always heard that it isn’t the fact that you get knocked down that’s important but whether or not you get back up that really counts. I am glad to report that the folks in Texas have gotten back up just like those in Mississippi did 12 years ago.

It isn’t just those pictures that have got me in this state of mind but also things I have seen and heard recently. The church shooting a few weeks ago in Sutherland Springs, Tx. I have been in at least dozens if not hundreds of those same little churches. It could have just as easily been the one I was at that Sunday morning. The wildfires in California is another thing. Can you imagine having to grab whatever you could in just a few seconds and run for your life to escape as your life’s work went up in flames behind you as you drove down the road? What do you grab first; pictures, bibles, what? The things you have represent your whole life and you have to prioritize them in just a few seconds and decide what is most important knowing that your decision is final and cannot be changed. The shooting at the music festival in Las Vegas. Which way do you run? People are falling every direction you look. Why not yesterday or why not tomorrow; why did it have to happen that day may have been going through their minds. Why them, why then, why there? When your life changes in an instant you probably don’t really even have to think about it. Your family is first and then everything else, there is no question. One fact remains; it could have been me. Any of these tragic events could have happened where I was. You may think that a hurricane can’t ever get past our mountains. Maybe not with full fury but I remember a few years back, in 2004, 2013, and 2016 Biltmore Village completely flooded and had to be closed due to high water from heavy rains following hurricanes. Even this year on October 23rd, Biltmore Village along with several other local neighborhoods and even Spartanburg, SC flooded and that wasn’t following a hurricane. My point is that it can be us.

Not just weather related stuff but unfortunate circumstances like the lady I mentioned that is 36 weeks pregnant and needing a home or a friend of mine that has battled recurring cancer and endured several surgeries just in the last year. I could have lost my home or I could have had cancer. I could have had to follow a lot more of my family and friends to the cemetary than what I have this year. It all could have been me. I don’t know why it wasn’t. I am no better than anyone else. If it was based on what we deserve, I deserve to be in hell but “it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” Just because he has had mercy on me totally without merit. The only other answer I know is found in Matthew 5:45 where it says in part speaking about the Lord, “…he maketh the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” It could have been me; or it could have been you. Next time, we might be needing grace to get through something but today we have had mercy extended to us once again. So as you go about your business this year concerning Christmas, breathe a prayer to the Lord and ask him to bless the folks of all of those situations. And then; thank the good Lord above for his mercy because it could have been me or it could have been you. Have a blessed day in the lord!!!

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