I’m no stranger to floods. I’ve watched a dumpster float along a downtown street in San Antonio, Texas. I’ve seen cars stuck in flooded intersections. I’ve had to navigate my way out of my old neighborhood by taking the literal high roads because flood waters had washed away the actual low road—my usual route out. I’ve witnessed my baby brother fishing out the window of our childhood home, happily leaning out the open window with his stick and rope, not aware that successful fishermen usually also need a hook on the end. He did this while the rest of us scooped water out of the floor with buckets and squeegees. “A river runs through it,” my mother would say.
Today I see reports of new floods, of tornadoes, of lives lost to the torrent of the water. And my heart is saddened by the number of the missing and the dead. And yet, scrolling through the headlines, I feel like the flooding isn’t actually just about the water. Yes, there is a lot of water in Texas and it is hurting people. Even as it replenishes barren water sources, it is hurting many.
But there is still drought in California. There are people worried about where their water will come from because without water, there is no life.
Protests continue in our country because everyone wants their valuable lives to be valued.
There are criminals gathering for the purpose of wresting control from one another, even if it means recreating a 1970s motorcycle gang moment and killing life.
There are warlords who give no thought to others but instead insist on preying on innocent victims, using evil violence and abuse to obtain their goals.
There are people so desperate for purpose and meaning that they join these evil groups intent on destruction of life and innocence and hope. Why can’t they find a better group to join? It’s my desperate plea, me clinging to the optimism that usually defines my character.
Today it seems like the world is swirling in flood waters. So much sorrow. So much loss. So much devastation. And my heart, too, is flooded with emotion overflowing into the corners of my eyes. But my emotion does not overpower what I know is Truth. (See Isaiah 43:1-4)
Truth says: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you.
Truth says: I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
Truth says: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.
Truth says: When you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
Truth says: When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. The flames will not set you ablaze.
Truth says: I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Truth says: You are precious and honored in my sight.
Truth says: I love you.
I want everyone to know these truths. I want everyone to know my Lord, my God, my Jesus. I don’t know how to interpret all the ways of the world, but I know that my God is FOR me. He isn’t indifferent to me, or to you. He is intentional and purposeful in all His ways. And he can save. And he will save. He has already saved.
Choose to follow this God, this Jesus, who loves you. He understands your tears and your longings and your loneliness and your sorrow. He understands your dreams and your passions and your hopes. He knows you by name. You are precious in His sight, not unnoticed or hidden. You can’t fly under his radar. He MADE you. Crafted you. Joyfully made you to be you. A reflection of Him, no less.
He understands the flood. He is aware of the danger of the floodwaters rising all around the world. He has a plan. He has a victory. The victory. Because he has true true love and true true power and true true life.
I’m getting abstract, I know, and yet I know what I write is real and tangible. It’s like Jesus is giving me a life line, reminding me that I need to look up at His face and not at the stormy waters and remember in whose hands I’ve placed my life. I need to see His trustworthy, gentle, loving, piercing eyes today.
I need to talk to Him. I need to tell him how I feel and ask him to be in those floodwaters where I cannot go. I need to ask him if I’m supposed to venture into the water somewhere. I need to ask him to help those children, those mothers, those families, those lost ones…He needs to save them all. And he is my Jesus and I know he can. If only I knew exactly how or when…but I haven’t time to worry about that now. I need to ask Him where I should send my money, all this treasure I have sitting here in America. All this stuff I’ve collected isn’t doing much to help the other side of the world. Except maybe I can send this money somewhere there. To give young girls an education. To give mothers a home and a way to buy food or medicine. To help soldiers, good soldiers, take the weapons from the evil ones. And what can I do with my time? It’s also something I can give. My time, my money, my words in prayer to God…
I’m hopeful today. Because my God is bigger than the flood.
I once went river-rafting. I was young, and my raft tipped over in the deep rapids. I couldn’t swim well, certainly not well enough to battle the strong undercurrent pulling my head under the water. I felt myself floating away and I knew that I could not survive alone. But still I kept my hands outstretched, searching for a hand hold. Something, anything.
And then, well, then I ran into something with my nose and my nose started bleeding. (A lot of my childhood stories involve me bloodying my own nose somehow.) I ran into a dad. My own father had already lifted the other little girl out of the water. I had run into the other dad, standing in the force of the river, to save. The river was not as big or deep or powerful to the fathers as it was in my eyes. This dad’s hand reached in and pulled me up out of the water and into the air. I took a deep breath as I fell into the other raft. Safe. Alive. Just a little bloody.
God is my father. He stands in the force of the water and watches me. He is in the river with us all, our river-rafting guide if you will. And if we fall overboard, if the river is too much, he reaches in and pulls us out. Just like Jesus pulled Peter up when he began to drown on the bobbing sea. While we navigate the pulsing waters, we grow stronger. With each passing mile, we know better how to read him, how to follow his instructions, how to work alongside him. It can be bloody work sometimes. But we figure out our role, our purpose, our value in this mission. We come to trust Him, with our very life, with our every word, with our whole entire heart.
My prayer for all of us today is Psalm 25 which begins, “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.”