The New England Hurricane of September 12, 1938, also known as “The Long Island Express,” was the first major hurricane to strike New England since 1869.
This Category-5 killer had sustained winds of 160 miles per hour and an unusually fast forward-speed of 70 miles per hour. It destroyed more than 57,000 homes ($4.7 billion in 2005 dollars) and took the lives of nearly 700 people.
From this devastating storm comes the story of a man in Massachusetts who received a new barometer in the mail on the morning of September 12. When he unwrapped his new toy disappointed him as he found that it did not work. He tapped it and shook it, but he could not get the barometer to function properly. The barometer needle stayed stuck at its lowest range—indicating “hurricane”—and would not budge.
Disgusted, the man-made the long walk back to the post office, placed the broken barometer back into the mail and returned it to the manufacturer. “It’s defective,” his letter said, “and will not indicate any other weather except ‘hurricane.’ I demand my money back.”
Later, on the trip home, the hurricane—the one his functional barometer was warning him about–struck. The man returned to find his house and entire neighborhood destroyed. The hurricane has scoured the earth of every last plank and left only the foundation and chimney behind. It wasn’t the barometer which was bad, but the weather.
Aren’t we sometimes in danger of desiring barometers that only tell us “fair-weather” is coming? Leaders may wrestle with the temptation to surround themselves with yes-men. Congregations may only tolerate preachers who entertain and flatter them. If they give us bad news we become irritated with them. But a true friend is truthful with us. A faithful witness of Christ does not water-down the truth. They warn us of the coming storms in order that we might prepare ourselves and be saved. The Scripture says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Proverbs 27:6).
Dear Lord, help me to heed the rebukes and criticism of others that I may benefit from their insight and prepare my way for eternity. Amen.