July 11, 2013

I will show you what he is like who comes to Me and hears My words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.   Luke 6:47-49

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”  Deuteronomy 33:27

The Statue of Liberty is back in business.

Lady Liberty herself didn’t take a beating from Hurricane Sandy last October, but her island home’s buildings, landscaping and docks sure did. The biggest problem was below ground: a tidal surge inundated the heating, cooling, sewer and power systems.

Nearby Ellis Island, home to a terrific immigration museum, also got hit. Documents and artifacts related to its past as the entry point for millions of immigrants weren’t damaged, but 8 feet of water in the basement took a toll. The National Park Service decided its first priority was to get Liberty Island accessible again, so Ellis Island remains shuttered for now.

Ironically, the Statue had a grand re-opening last October 28, the day before the storm, after an extensive overhaul. The entire inside had been redone—new stairwells, elevators, and climate control, electric and lighting systems. All of that work wasn’t lost in the storm; it just meant more had to be done. But last week—on July 4, naturally—the  tourists were allowed back in.

An interesting side note: back in November, Musco Lighting donated equipment and services through the National Park Foundation to re-light the Statue’s torch temporarily. You may have seen that name on lighting systems at sports fields and stadiums, as that’s the company’s main business. It also provides in-kind services to illuminate the White House, the Flight 93 National Memorial and Big Bend National Park, among others. Sadly, no, we’re not related…

Another park site mostly re-opened to the public is Gateway National Recreation Area in New York (Staten Island and Jamaica Bay) and New Jersey (Sandy Hook). Sandy Hook’s fire and ranger station, theater and  most of its concession stands were flooded during Hurricane Sandy; three parking lots were buried under 3 to 4 feet of sand (during the cleanup at Sandy Hook, two pieces of ordnance were found, brought to the surface by the storm—the Hook used to be an Army ammunition testing ground).

Now, all of Gateway’s lifeguarded beaches are operational, along with almost all fishing spots and walking trails. But repairs are still being made to infrastructure and buildings (the visitor center, for example, remains closed, and the restrooms are portable for the time being).

Fire Island National Seashore, meanwhile, is contending with a breach. Sandy opened up an 856-foot channel on this barrier island off the coast of New York’s Long Island, and authorities are still trying to determine if it will close on its own, or should be closed manually. Again, many facilities are open, but damage assessment and repairs are ongoing.

Sandy was just one in a long line of natural disasters to plague us recently here in the United States. We can’t do much about the world’s hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis, except be prepared. And that means not only knowing what to do to withstand the tumult, but also putting that knowledge into practice by digging deep and laying a strong foundation—before calamity hits.

Corrie tenBoom belonged to a Dutch Christian family who hid Jews and members of the underground in a secret compartment in their house during World War II. But they were betrayed, and most of the tenBooms died in concentration camps (the refugees were saved). Corrie survived to live a long life, becoming an author and speaker. One of her books, The Hiding Place, about her WWII experiences, was turned into a movie with actors playing the roles. In a postscript at the end of the film, Corrie herself appears, and in her heavy accent, testifies to what kept her going throughout that terrible time: “There is no pit so deep that Jesus is not deeper still.”

Physical foundations can be dug only so far. A spiritual foundation built on the bedrock of God’s promises goes on forever.

And always, underneath, are the everlasting arms.

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