Hurricanes began sweeping in, one after the other, just a few weeks before my wedding day. We had set the date for mid-September when we could feel safe expecting dry weather and cooler temperatures. My dreams of a serene outdoor wedding should have been assured. But that was not to be in 2017.
One hurricane, and the resulting stormy weather that always reaches us a few days later, hit right before the wedding. And immediately, another hurricane was threatening. Should we change our plans? Should we find a new wedding location? Each day I watched the weather and prayed and counted the days. I could just picture tearing winds and a deluge of rain making havoc of all my carefully laid wedding plans. I continued to watch the forecasts.
At the same time, my brother was in the process of moving to Florida because of a job promotion. You’re moving where? To Florida? Now?! Have you really thought this through? The questions came thick and fast. The questions, skepticism, and critiques came pouring in, as he packed up his family, found renters for his house, and prepared to set out.
With only a couple of days until the wedding, came newfound resolution and confidence. The tension and uncertainty were gone. The time for making changes, for hesitating over what could go wrong had passed. It was going to happen. The wedding day was going to dawn, and we were going to carry out the plans we had made. Come wind or rain or high water, we would accomplish what we had purposed to do.
Whatever the foreboding clouds might hold for us, we would press on. Ecclesiastes says it poetically: “If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies” (11:3).
Such is life. We lay plans and then move ahead in pursuing them; whatever odds assail us. There are clouds ahead, no doubt, but we must keep our eyes fixed on what we know should be. “He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap” (Ecclesiastes 11:4).
That is not to say our ideas will always turn out the way we want or that we can avoid the storms. There is a place for prudence and cost should be counted before starting out. But once we have settled on the course we know we must take, all the planning in the world cannot replace the commitment to hold fast in faith. The wind and the clouds will always come, especially at the most inopportune times when we are least prepared or powerless before them. But we cannot stop to watch and fear the clouds, or turn aside because of them, but only venture forward in the faith and conviction with which we began.
This last year has been a momentous one for most of the nation. Fortunately, for my family, the weather turned out clear and sunny by the early afternoon on my wedding day. And my brother and his family successfully made their move despite the stormy weather. But while the fall season was fraught with hurricanes, the whole year has been rife with storms of another sort. There has been violence, political upheaval, international tensions, and even natural calamities, all coming thick and fast.
January 2017 ushered in a new presidency. Since then, much-promised change has occurred and even more has happened that none of us imagined. This past year we have felt birth pangs of a sort, and the new era that we have entered is still young, untried, and unsure. We can all see furtive clouds ahead, but it is harder to see what lies beyond. What will this year bring? Who can know? The temptation to watch the clouds is strong. We can fear them, and stumble in our purpose because of them, or we can press forward and work for what we hope to achieve.