I LIVE near Manila, in the Philippines. Everyone thought that Typhoon Ketsana, which began to develop in late September, would be just like other storms of the past. It was not. Although we didn't have a lot of strong winds, we received an unusual amount of rain. Now that the typhoon has gone, some people don't even know how to begin rebuilding, and it could take a while before everyone can return to their normal way of life.
But I know God will guide this process of restoration because even during the storm, I witnessed and felt only an outpouring of love. God, Love, remains, "... 'the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever;' ..." (Science and Health, p. 2). I'd like to share my experience.
DURING THE STORM
I live in a housing compound with four doors, each door leading to the home of a different family.
When the storm came, it brought flooding. The floodwater entered our garage, reached my home, and quickly rose to my knees, waist, and then my chest. All this time, I was praying, knowing that God is a "very present help in trouble" (Ps. 46:1) and would show me what to do next.
A kind neighbor helped me move my things to a higher place so that they wouldn't get wet, and then she invited me and my Shih Tzu dog, Stephanie, to stay at her place in the compound so I wouldn't be alone. I was able to alert my husband, who was working overseas, as well as my Christian Science church family, about the situation, and they called rescue teams to come to our aid. Although we waited, no rescue came and I continued to pray calmly. In my heart, I knew God was taking care of me and everyone else. When the water became deeper, it was necessary to get to higher ground.
As the floodwater kept rising, I received many angel thoughts that kept me, my dog, and my neighbors safe. For example, the idea came to me to use the frame of a wooden bed and turn it into a ladder. All of us swam toward it and climbed to the roof of the building, which seemed to me like Mt. Ararat (from the story of Noah in the Bible). Since I love to teach about Noah's ark in the Christian Science Sunday School, I was reminded of Noah gathering his family and all the animals to the ark. All of us got to the roof safely, though soaked and shivering.
This experience really showed me that God meets all of our needs. We found out that the other side of the roof had a balcony that was beyond the flood's reach, so we were able to stay there and seek shelter from the rain. It had benches so that we didn't have to sit on the ground.
While the group I was with was counting all the things they lost, I closed my eyes to count my blessings. The story of Job came to mind. His faith in God was so strong, and God gave him back all that he had lost. A prayer that comforted me during these times was the 91st Psalm. I knew that wherever we were, we were in "the secret place of the most High," that God keeps all of His promises, including the promise of protection. This was a time for me to rejoice instead of weep, and to celebrate the nothingness of anything opposed to God, who is Life, and the fact that spiritual, not material, things mean the most. It was a good reminder that we do not pray to receive material provision, but to recognize that Life, Truth, and Love are always present with us. I told my neighbors that we could be grateful we were in a safe place.
Early in the evening, my cellphone ran out of battery power, and although I lost communication with my husband and church family, I felt so connected to God, Principle, who is always in action. Night fell. Our need for food was fulfilled when a couple on a higher floor offered us anything that was in their refrigerator (all electricity was out). They also graciously invited us all to sleep at their place. This reminded me of the story of the good Samaritan in the Bible (see Luke 10:25–37).
I knew that wherever we were, we were "in the secret place of the most High," that God keeps all of His promises, including the promise of protection.
The night was long and dark. While some of my neighbors slept, I stayed awake praying and singing quietly to myself my favorite hymns from the Christian Science Hymnal. I felt so secure in God's presence. It seemed like the perfect time to be alert, to watch, and to pray.
At one point during the night, lots of neighborhood dogs were howling. I also included these dogs in my prayers to know that God cares for them and He does not abandon His creation, but is in control, keeping all safe and warm. I also heard the owner of the place talking on his cellphone. I overheard him say that his wallet couldn't be found, and I thought that maybe there was some way I could help.
A new day finally began and the floodwater receded to waistlevel, so we could all get around. My companions all left to take care of things, and people emerged from their places of safety. Even some neighborhood dogs could be seen safe and sound.
I decided to go to the market and stood in line to buy food for the neighbors who had been so generous to let us all stay in their house. They were grateful that this food would last them for three days.
Soon, I was able to leave the compound and stay with someone from church. I returned home three days after the storm. Although it looked so different, I knew that nothing had been lost in God's kingdom and His allness is the measure and starting point of "recovery." One of the hymns that helped me says,
He that has made my heaven secure,
Will here all good provide;
While Christ is rich, can I be poor?
What can I want beside?
And then from another verse,
When all material streams are dried,
Thy fullness is the same;
May I with this be satisfied,
And glory in Thy name.
(John Ryland, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 224)
I went to church the following Sunday and witnessed the outpouring of love and care from our church family. A lot of people donated clothes and other items, and everyone happily helped and shared with each other. There was an abundance of supply for the people in our church who'd been affected by the typhoon, and I enjoyed choosing relief goods not only for me, but also my brother's family and sister's grandchildren. I saw that God truly is Love and we reflect this Love.
This experience has blessed me so much. It made me feel so close to God and to my neighbors and church family. I've learned that what matters isn't how much we know, but how much we practice God-governed wisdom. |
Lilet Ann lives in San Roque, Cainta, Rizal, Philippines.