September 21, 2017
So many of you have inquired of us and others after praying for our safety during the recent onslaught by Hurricane Harvey. We are thankful that we suffered no personal damage or even loss of power and we grieve for hundreds of thousands of others who did, including numerous gracEmail subscribers. Frank Coats is pastor of Lake Houston United Methodist Church, which was thoroughly flooded and has conducted Sunday services for the past several weeks in the yard.
Within our own Bering Drive church of fewer than 200 people, eight families were flooded: among these a young couple with a two-year-old child who lost their car and everything in their first-floor apartment, and a retired couple whose home of 44 years was filled with five feet of water. Volunteers from church have been helping to cut off sheetrock and pull out soggy insulation in efforts to salvage what they could. This is a long process of restoration and recovery.
Some have asked how they can help. Contributions for our own Bering Drive members’ needs would be most welcome (see https://beringfamily.org ). I also recommend the relief work by Impact Houston Church of Christ, an inner-city congregation that Sara Faye and I have supported for many years. Its website is http://impacthoustonchurch.org ). As I write this, Hurricane Irma has blasted the state of Florida, a major earthquake has assaulted Mexico and Hurricane Maria has battered Puerto Rico and other islands, all reminders of our vulnerability against forces of nature and our frailty in the storms that assault. But we are also reminded that God is a faithful lifter of our heads, and his people have shown compassion in countless acts of service and kindness and that has encouraged our hearts amidst the destruction.
I recently received word of the passing of longtime gracEmail subscriber Rick Smith of Las Vegas, Nevada. I have known Rick and his wife Betty (Whitehead) since we were students together at Florida Christian College (now Florida College) in 1962. Rick was a Jesus-man throughout his ministry and he served with Churches of Christ, Independent Christian Churches and Disciples of Christ.
The obituary pages are filling with names of people of my generation and I should not find that surprising. Recent weeks have brought news of the deaths of FC classmates Jim Davis and Cheryl Vittitow Lowe, who was Sara Faye’s maid of honor in our wedding. I am amazed that the years pass so quickly. With the tutelage of Parkinson’s Disease and neuropathy, I am learning by experience what I learned long ago in Scripture, that our outward self is perishing but the inward self is being renewed day by day. And, also, that even when we are afflicted and despair of life itself, God’s power finds a place to manifest itself and he is glorified in our own weakness.
Two truths — the utter frailty and inadequacy of all things of earthly origin, and the reality of God’s grace in Jesus Christ – impress themselves on my mind afresh with each passing day. In a way, it seems, everything else is but mere distraction. In truth, however, what more could we need than that. And so we give thanks to God (as an ancient prayer states it) for the means of grace and for the hope of glory!