Lori turned off the television, lay back on her couch, and opened her half-finished novel. She could only watch so much storm coverage before moderate anxiety became full-blown obsession. Out in the Gulf, Hurricane Sandy spiraled up the Florida coastline.
Growing up in northeast Florida, these tropical systems were a lark; rain, wind, and the possibility of a day off from school. Her family would half-heartedly track them as they bypassed the coast, heading on to their more northerly neighbors.
Hurricane Andrew changed everything. She and Mike, newly married and living on the Gulf coast, were shocked by the destruction. Later, in 2004, 4 hurricanes criss-crossed Florida in 44 days, carving paths of devastation.
Mike's position with the county's Emergency Management Team meant that he was away from home during the worst storms, but Lori didn't worry. It comforted her to know that he was helping everyone prepare, as if his presence at the command center would somehow protect them.
Go to the Rec.
Lori laid down her novel. A thought nagged at her. She was off tonight so that she could put in a long day tomorrow in case the storm turned toward them. The Recreation Center, nicknamed the “Rec”, would be a shelter for those living in the evacuation zone. Half of the staff were there tonight, setting up cots and tables for potential evacuees.
Go to the Rec.
Lori closed her book and sat up. Maybe it was guilt. She was Assistant Director. Perhaps she should be there and Kevin, her boss, should be at home with his family. No, this feeling was different.
Laying her book aside, Lori went into her bedroom and changed into a pair of jeans and a clean shirt. She ran her fingers through her hair. “This is crazy,” she muttered to herself, grabbing her keys as she walked out the door.
Even with the hurricane's center hundreds of miles away, wind whipped through the trees. Soon the storm's outer bands would arrive, bringing rain, and hopefully, little else. Lori breathed in the moist tropical air, heavy with the tang of salt.
A few minutes later she pulled into the nearly empty parking lot. It wasn't too late to turn back, to deny the feeling and return home. No one would ever know.
Kevin, the Rec's Director, looked every inch the college basketball star that he had been. An injury late in his senior year sidelined his dreams of turning pro. He would later call it the best thing that ever happened to him. Lori walked in and gave him a feeble wave.
Kevin set down the box he was carrying. “What are you doing here?”
“I hate sitting around, watching the storm track,” Lori replied, “I feel like one of those cartoon characters standing helplessly in front of a steamroller until it runs over him. Thought I'd catch up on some paperwork.”
Half-empty pizza boxes covered a table near her office door. Lori grabbed a slice and a soda, trying to appear relaxed. She passed Don, one of the recreation leaders, as he limped by, rolling a dolly stacked with chairs.
Lori sat down at her desk and picked up a stack of bulletins. She looked up to see Kevin standing in the doorway. “Why are you really here?”
Lori exhaled. “Something's telling me that I need to be here.”
“You're hearing voices?”
“No! I'm .... I don't know. I have this....feeling. That I need to be here. It's not guilt and it's not duty. It's a calling, like the only way I'll have peace is if I obey.”
Kevin studied her expression for a long time. “It could be the Holy Spirit.”
“Oh, come on. It's not like I saw a burning bush or anything. I just needed to come here...to pray.”
“Lori, I knew you before you knew Christ. I've watched you grow. I've discipled you and Mike. Maybe the Spirit is prompting you to pray for something or someone.”
“Me? Hey, I'm no prayer warrior.”
“Sounds like you've just been drafted.”
Lori hesitated. “What do I pray?”
“Just pray like young Samuel did.”
Lori bowed her head and cleared her cluttered mind. “I'm here, Lord. Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Pray for his healing.
Lori looked up and saw Don returning with the empty dolly, his limp more noticeable this time. “Hey Don,” Lori called, “I'd like to pray for you.”
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