The Very Meaning Of Stress

Thursday evening, I was waiting in the local CVS for my prescription and took a seat. Two chairs over sat a young woman who looked beyond tired. I said, “Hard day?” She answered, “Stress.”

I probably should have left it there, but said, “Stress at work or Gustav stress?” She said, “Gustav. It’s all everyone at work is thinking about and no one has a clue what it’s going to do or what we need to do.”

The very definition of stress for my money.

We don’t know where the hurricane is going, we don’t know how big or how strong it will be, we don’t know whether we should leave or stay, and if we leave, we aren’t decided on where we should go or what to take with us.

If that’s where I am, I guarantee it’s where a half-million of us are.


The accompanying e-mail article from David Crosby, pastor of New Orleans’ First Baptist Church, covers much of the same ground. He’s one of the best writers and most creative thinkers I know. We had lunch together Wednesday. He seemed stressed out already. (He probably thought I did, too.)

You think everything is back to normal around here (in some ways), but let a serious hurricane threat develop in the Caribbean and all bets are off. The stores stock up on supplies, gas stations run out of fuel, no work gets done in offices, the phone lines are burned up with people calling friends to say, “What are you going to do?” and motels start taking reservations all the way to Memphis. It’s only Friday and if Gustav gets here at all, it’ll be Monday night or Tuesday but you’d think it was knocking on the door at this moment.

Our friends in other parts of the country have no idea what this is like. The single word that comes to mind is “scary.” Everything we have accomplished in three years–bear in mind that today, August 29, is the third anniversary of Katrina–may be undone in a few hours. Or nothing may happen, and life may go on as usual.

Uncertainty.

All over these river parishes are FEMA trailers and partially built houses, lying there now so vulnerable to hurricane winds. The newspaper this Friday morning features a family that just moved back from Atlanta. As much as they liked Georgia, they said, “it just wasn’t home.” Well, they’re home and now this. Welcome back to New Orleans, neighbors.

Our disaster relief teams are sitting on ready, no matter where the hurricane goes. If it comes to this city, Calvary and FBC Kenner have already agreed for feeding units to be established in their parking lots.

My 14-year-old grandson Grant doesn’t want to leave at all, but to ride out the storm. Oh, yeah. I told him, “Even if you got through the storm all right, I can guarantee you that you’ll be without electrical power for several days. And Grant, you’ll have no fridge, no television or radio, no videos, and no lights. Most importantly, you’ll have no air conditioning–and the temperature will be in the 90s every day. You will be more miserable than you’ve ever been in your life.”

My wife said it’s an experience everyone needs once. We had ours in September 1965 when Hurricane Betsy’s eye went right over our church in St. Charles Parish. We were in revival that week–and to show something, I’m not sure what–we went ahead with it, in spite of all the devastation and lack of electricity.

We’ll not do that again, not by choice.

Thanks for praying for us. My home computer has quit–and that is not storm-related–so any posting of articles that takes place here will be done by Marty in North Carolina.

See you soon, on the other side of this.

12 thoughts on “The Very Meaning Of Stress

  1. I remember reading that you were in Jackson, Mississippi right now. Where did you go to church this morning?

  2. Brother Joe,

    No matter what happens, we will be there in person once the storm has passed but definitely before His Throne as the events unfold.

    With prayers for you and the family and all our brothers and sisters in harms way,

    carolyn *~

    Psalm 121:8 The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

  3. Update – since Dad isn’t able to post anything at the moment, I’ll fill in a few gaps.

    Mom and Dad departed New Orleans Sunday morning at 9:00, headed for the home of long-time friends in Jackson, Ms. On a normal day, this drive takes about 2 1/2 hours. I spoke with Dad at 3:00 this afternoon, and they were still 30 miles below Jackson – and more than half the drive was contra-flow: not just the normal 2-3 lanes headed north, but the opposite lanes as well. Mom and Dad plan to continue their evacuation Monday morning, headed towards the family homestead in north Alabama. Those plans could easily change, though. Gustav is moving faster than expected and Jackson could be getting hammered in the morning. I suspect they may stay put for at least a day.

    FYI – my family evacuated to an area that is under mandatory evacuation (is that jumping from the frying pan into the fire?) – meaning I’ll be shipped off to Angola, the state penitentiary, if I step off the property of my in-laws in Slidell. This probably wouldn’t surprise some of my former teachers. For those of you that don’t know, Slidell is about 30 miles northeast of New Orleans, just above Lake Pontchartrain, and a foot or two above sea level (that makes it a hill in New Orleans). We’re several miles inland and feel pretty safe. Guess we could be safer though.

    Anyway, Dad should provide an update soon enough. Keep praying for all of us in this area.

    Neil

  4. Update – since Dad isn’t able to post anything at the moment, I’ll fill in a few gaps.

    Mom and Dad departed New Orleans Sunday morning at 9:00, headed for the home of long-time friends in Jackson, Ms. On a normal day, this drive takes about 2 1/2 hours. I spoke with Dad at 3:00 this afternoon, and they were still 30 miles below Jackson – and more than half the drive was contra-flow: not just the normal 2-3 lanes headed north, but the opposite lanes as well. Mom and Dad plan to continue their evacuation Monday morning, headed towards the family homestead in north Alabama. Those plans could easily change, though. Gustav is moving faster than expected and Jackson could be getting hammered in the morning. I suspect they may stay put for at least a day.

    FYI – my family evacuated to an area that is under mandatory evacuation (is that jumping from the frying pan into the fire?) – meaning I’ll be shipped off to Angola, the state penitentiary, if I step off the property of my in-laws in Slidell. This probably wouldn’t surprise some of my former teachers. For those of you that don’t know, Slidell is about 30 miles northeast of New Orleans, just above Lake Pontchartrain, and a foot or two above sea level (that makes it a hill in New Orleans). We’re several miles inland and feel pretty safe. Guess we could be safer though.

    Anyway, Dad should provide an update soon enough. Keep praying for all of us in this area.

  5. Charlotte is praying for you all – let us know how we can pray and how we can help. Meanwhile, we stand in the gap…

  6. Anyone down south of us – Greenville, MS is prepared to take you in. Go to the convention Center, same as last time. Red Cross trucks with supplies set up this afternoon.

    Lara

  7. My prayers are with you. We are all praying that some how the Lord will be gracious and let this one pass New Orleans by.

  8. My prayers are with you. We are all praying that some how the Lord will be gracious and let this one pass New Orleans by.

  9. I AM PRAYING FOR YOU AND FOR GOD’S wILL TO BE DONE IN THE NEW ORLEANS AREA.

    THIS IS THE TIME TO WEAN OURSELVES OFF OF EARTHLY POSSESSIONS, AND CONCENTRATE ON SPIRITUAL THINGS.

    GOD SENDS STORMS IN OUR LIFE TO STRENGTHN OUR FAITH, AND TO CAUSE US TO EVER SEEK HIS FACE.

  10. I am praying for the McKeever family and all of the wonderful people I met down there after Katrina.

    I still think of people like Rev. Lionel Vincent, Dennis Cole and many, many others who wore bright smiles in the midst of trials that competed with Job’s. Your faith challenged me then and continues to do so.

  11. You are in our prayers. Here’s hoping that the initial good reports hold true and you can all return home safely very soon.

  12. Praying for a safe return. I’m so glad to see that the levees held.

    Now pray for me near Savannah, Georgia, as we face the possible arrival of Hanna, Ike and/or Josephine.