In Matthew 8, the Bible tells a comforting story about the Lord’s approach to the storms of life. Jesus steps onto a boat, and his disciples dutifully follow him. While they are on the boat, circumstances change.
The day before the Spring Women’s Retreat, the Tuscarora staff was much like the disciples upon entering the boat. The storm was forecast, but we were prepared to follow our call to ministry and continue with the upcoming event as planned.
By Friday afternoon, the nor’easter forecasted had arrived. The winds raged, the rain and snow came down, and Tuscarora lost power at 3:30 pm. With 180 ladies here for a retreat, and an incredible sense of optimism, the program began.
As nightfall approached, reports of the widespread damage began to come in. Trees and wires were down blocking most of the roads. Electricity was out throughout most of the Lehigh Valley and northwestern New Jersey. Those guests who had made it to the grounds were facing a night with no power, no heat, and limited running water. They gathered in the dining room for a dinner served by candlelight. Cold and tired, this was not the retreat they imagined.
The temptation to say, “Save us, Lord, we are perishing,” in these moments is great. Too often, we try to decide how the Lord will speak to us. We plan to leave our everyday lives and experience His spirit in places like Tuscarora, where we are comfortable and peaceful. But in the Matthew 8 story, Jesus is not troubled by the storm, only the disciples.
Through the storm Jesus said, “Why are you afraid.” There, in the darkened dining room the attitude became one of expectancy. The storm was so severe, the circumstances so unique, that many women wondered what they were there to experience. What was so important that Satan would try so hard to stop it?
The spirit of the Lord is not stopped by the wind, the rain, and the snow. Choosing to stay in the candle lit dining room, our worship band lead the group of ladies in several songs. Voices, unaltered by microphones and speakers, were raised to the heavens glorifying the Lord. Hearts, burdened by frustration and discomfort, praised the Lord despite the circumstances.
Eventually, the storm quieted, but so did the storm within the hearts of our guests. Terry Wilson, called in to speak when we heard our planned speaker couldn’t arrive, spoke about changing our perspective and realizing we are enough. We have enough. We do enough. Our God, even in the midst of the storms of life, is enough.
In the morning, we assessed the downed trees and power lines. Power was not estimated to return until Wednesday. The damage in the area was worse than Hurricane Sandy years before. At its peak, over 587,000 homes were without electricity.
Once the roads were clear, Tuscarora made the difficult decision to end the weekend after dinner on Saturday. Many guests didn’t want to leave, expressing over and over that Tuscarora had been a safe place in the storm for them, never causing them to be fearful, and in fact creating a unique mountaintop for this year’s retreat.
Only Jesus has the ability to calm the storm. Only Jesus commands the winds and the seas.
Tuscarora is humbled by the joyful hearts that rode out the storm with us. We are thankful for the many hands who have worked over the last few days to repair the damage, on our grounds and everywhere that was impacted. We are thankful for the generous hearts that have provided gifts of support to help with the clean-up required.
This experience has revealed that we are always dependent on the support of others. We are dependent on our guests, who allow us to perform the ministry we are called to. We are dependent on our volunteers who give their time and talent when needed. We are dependent on our donors, who anticipate our needs before we even ask. Many of our guests this past weekend made gifts to the ministry as they left, and while we were still offline, gifts came in online to relieve the clean-up efforts.
It is our prayer that God is even calling some of you to support our ministry through this storm. Gifts can be made online by visiting tuscarora.org/giving, or mailed to 3300 River Rd, Mount Bethel PA, 18343. While our need is great, God has always provided for our needs in the past, and we are faithful that He will do the same now.
Please keep Tuscarora in your prayers, as we are often called to perform our ministry in the midst of physical and spiritual storms. Remember though, even when we are frightened and call out for help, we can be reminded that our Savior is never stopped.
To support the ministry of Tuscarora Inn and Conference Center while it works on storm repair and clean up, click here.