The next day nearly every store of every type in town was out of bottled water. We had to stop at one of them and a lady stood shouting frantically into her phone, "They're totally out! What are we going to do?"
After she hung up, Keith offered, "Ma'am? There is still plenty of water from the tap in your kitchen sink."
Which is exactly what we did—pull the 7 or 8 clean, empty gallon milk jugs that we keep in the shed and fill them up, along with my umpteen-quart pressure canner for drinking water and tooth brushing. Then we filled a dozen five gallon buckets outside, plus a forty gallon barrel to use for flushes, baths, and dishwashing. All we had to do was filter them through a cloth to get our dirt and leaves when it was time to use them.
I have never seen Florida prepare for a hurricane like she did for Irma. Maybe it was the pictures coming out of Houston from hurricane Harvey a few weeks before. Maybe it was the 185 mph winds. Or maybe it was the sheer size of the storm. At one point it covered the whole state except for the far western panhandle.
I have never seen so many empty shelves in the stores. I haven't seen long lines at the gas pumps since the gas shortage of the 1970s. I have certainly never seen the National Guard handling those long lines when only one station out of 5 was open at an exit, the waiting cars trailing back down the off-ramp to the interstate itself. I have never seen the evacuations, with the interstate at one point being opened to northbound traffic on both sides.
"This is the one we never wanted to see," I heard more than one meteorologist say. "You'd better prepare, Florida." And prepare she did, all 21 million of her.
And somewhere along the way I couldn't help but wonder, "Shouldn't we be preparing for the Lord this way?" You may think you have plenty of time, but listen—for you, the Lord comes the day you die. Once your life here is over, there are no second chances.
And that life can end in a flash. I have lost two cousins to automobile accidents, one in his 20s and the other at 16. I have lost several close friends to disease in their 40s and 50s. You just never know.
And then there is this: every day the Lord doesn't come is a day closer to the day He will. And just like Irma finally arrived, so will He.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. (Matt 25:1-13)