“The Spirit of Punta Gorda” is a sculpture of two palm trees, one bent over and one standing tall erected on a point overlooking Charlotte Harbor. This sentinel was created to remember Hurricane Charlie, the August 13, 2004 category 4 hurricane that hit the community of Punta Gorda dead on. The bent over tree reminds us of the destruction caused to our town and to the lives of the people who lived here. The tall straight tree reminds us of the courage, resilience, and indomitable spirit of the people of Punta Gorda. The town and its people were bent but not broken.
As the citizens of Punta Gorda approach the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Charlie it would do us good to think of the message that the sculpture communicates to our individual lives. It is the same message that God and His Word relates to those who are citizens of heaven. We too are susceptible to the strong winds of trials and personal tragedies. We may suffer physical pain, family turmoil, and financial setbacks in our life. Who among us has not been blown over by some devastating wind? But God tells His children that He will help us to stand strong. He will not allow us to go through anything beyond our ability to handle (1 Cor. 10:13). He also tells us that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:37). Paul even shares with us how the things that happened to him have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel (Phil. 1:12).
The sculpture in Laishley Park in Punta Gorda is a powerful reminder to me of what can happen to anyone. It also reminds me of the strength that God can give to us to stand tall and strong. Isaiah 40:31 tells us: “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” At times we all may be a little bent, but we don’t have to be broken.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation