For several weeks, I watched and listened to the forecasts of record flooding predicted to occur along the Mississippi River. At first, I thought it would be perfect timing for us to make a trip to see this anticipated happening on a Sabbath afternoon. But the anticipated snow melt from the record snowpack north of us happened a good deal faster than first thought. A whole week earlier for the cresting of the river! I really wanted to see this sight in person. The flooding river of past years for me was only by picture and not first hand. So when they said that it would be the second highest ever recorded, it intensified my desire. Duties and weather kept us from making the trip on cresting day but the day after was still memorable. By the time we were able to experience it and see, the crest was down about a foot. Down, but still very, very, impressive. Looking out over the river, it no longer looked like a river! There was water, water, everywhere! It seemed more like a lake for you could not see the river banks. We attempted to drive on roads that were closed. Trees that prefer to grow on dry land were now growing and living in standing water and will for some time to come. I can't imagine that it is good for them to spend so much time with wet feet! We were able to drive up to several high points and could see for miles--water! The normal landmarks had changed or even disappeared. Roads underwater. Railroads looked like they were built on the water and the train seemingly to be able to run through water. Former islands no longer visible. We drove along streets that usually are not near the river. Now the homes had the river in their yards. Some houses had built sandbag dams around their foundations. Some of the neighboring homes seemed to have decided they didn't need to use sandbags. Some houses and businesses were pumping the water out of where it didn't belong. We could see the debris left higher on the slopes where the crest earlier had deposited it. The flood brought in trash of all kinds, wood and branches, garbage, and many big blue barrels! A flood brings with it the gift of hard cleanup work! It will not be fun or easy. It still will have to be done. Cleaning our own life of trash is not easy or fun. It still has to be done.
I have personally experienced floods of much smaller proportions. And they weren't fun! One flood was when we had about 2 feet of water in our basement that came through a basement window when the window well filled up with snow water and broke the window. It came into our basement that was built without a basement drain. Ugh! We had no phone during this emergency and I had to walk to get help! That was enough flood for me! And then we moved to Iowa and I was pretty sure I was safe from a flood. I was wrong! One Sabbath after 9 inches of rain, our church basement was flooded with about 2 feet of water. It does seem odd to wear your working clothes to church to try to rescue church library books and Kindergarten SS things. Another Ugh! And then came another large storm where we live and caused the river near us to
flood--majorly. This time it was a relative's home and when we went to check up on her, she had disappeared. We worried! We did find her safe and then came the clean up time, again!! Triple Ugh! This time it was even harder. Her basement was completely full of water and was even more than a foot deep in the living area. Everything was covered in slimy mud and nastiness. Cleanup took days and many, many, hands working hard. Sometimes we think we are being flooded with troubles. We forget that the flood doesn’t last forever. Eventually the water will return to normal. Normal is what we want. But the sender of trouble is not as powerful as the sender of good and He, Christ promises to send us a flood of the best things He has planned for us.
Satan, the dragon, sends out a flood against the church and seeks to destroy the Baby (Jesus). But God opened up a great crack in the earth and swallowed up the water/flood/persecution that was seeking to destroy Christ and His message...
Our trip to the Mississippi River made me think about Bible stories and parables and other things associated with water. One of the immediate stories that came to my mind was the Red Sea crossing after the Israelites left Egypt. They too came to a high point and could see nothing but water, water, water. Their road was closed. The Sea was blocking their way and trouble was coming behind them in the form of soldiers. They thought they were looking at the water of death. Their way forward was blocked, they couldn't turn around--that way was blocked too! They forgot that God could provide the way forward. They forgot to trust Him to work it out. After all, God had used water to save Moses when he was just a baby. God used the water for salvation! Later on as the Israelites traveled through the desert wilderness, they desperately wanted water. God had Moses speak to a rock and water came forth--they had Salvation in the water. And again, when the bitter water was made sweet. The water seems to be part of Salvation. Often in the Bible, Water is Life. Jesus is Life for us. Jesus told the woman at the well that He had Living Water for her! She understood the importance of what He was telling her and offering her.
For others water was death. I am thinking of the people that did not heed the warnings of Noah. They laughed until they were in the water. Then they probably wished they had listened and believed. It was too late. Just as those this past week had plenty of warning that water and a flood was coming. There was time to prepare before the water came. It is too late to prepare after the water arrives. Then it is the water of death to property and life.
There is the familiar parable of the wise and foolish men. One built on the rock and high ground, the other built on the sandy shore. Along the Mississippi river, many people build houses. Many--the wise--know they are in a place that will flood so they build a house on pillars that go down to a firm foundation and their homes remain safe. We need to be wise and build our lives on the firm foundation of God's truth for safety during the floods of trouble that come to us.
As we drove along the flooded areas that usually are dry land, I knew that it will be days before that land is without water and even longer before it is dry again. I could not help but wonder what all the little creatures-mice and voles and nesting birds and baby raccoons that live there normally were doing or where they had gone. Did they move away to dry land? Did they drown? Did God speak to them ahead of the flood and they heeded His warning? Somehow, I think many are safe--I just don't know how. God cares for each person and sparrow and probably each little mouse!
At the same time people along the river were preparing for flooding water, those away from the river were being warned that there was a burn ban. With little rain, dry dead plants from winter, dry air, and a dry strong wind, the danger from runaway fire was great and full of possible tragedy. The exact opposite weather conditions happening at the same time. Water and Ice have the same molecular formation. Yet they are opposites. One is a liquid, the other is a solid. One will keep you alive, the other can cause death or sometimes it is the other way around. Water can cause death by drowning; ice can cool down body functions so that your body can be repaired. God does work in mysterious ways. He is a God of mystery and a Savior God.
Water is the universal medium of life. Without water, our fields would dry up and we would have no nourishment. Without water no cell in our body could survive. Without water all life would perish. But water meant death to those who didn't get on the boat with Noah. When we want to reach out to groups of people that need to know about Jesus, we often give them a source of good clean water first.
"Whoever is thirsty let him come; and whoever wishes let him take the free gift of the water of life. Revelation 22:17
I want the Water --to flood my life and save my soul!!