This has been one of the craziest weeks of my life.
I have had the extremely bittersweet privilege of walking alongside dear friends whose private preschool, Foundations Academy Cinco Ranch, was flooded. Thanks to the cameras, they already knew from home that the school appeared to have some water in it, but nothing, not even wading through knee-high water to get to the building, could prepare us for the initial shock of opening the front door and seeing several inches of water in every single room.
As this dear couple held each other and cried over the loss of the place they have poured their lives and resources into for years, I realized how completely lame my offer of “we’ll go up there with you and help you shop vac” really was. You need more than a shop vac for an entire submerged neighborhood that has boats going up and down the street all day and SUVs with water up to the tops of the windshield.
With a backdrop of people being rescued from nearby houses by air boat and helicopter, Chad and Misty, with a small army of supportive, amazing family members from far and near and dedicated friends, began the long process of recovering what could be saved and tearing out what couldn’t.
Even in the face of a staggering amount of work with the accompanying sense of being overwhelmed and not knowing where to even begin, there was gratitude.
Gratitude that it wasn’t worse. Gratitude that there was anything that could be salvaged. Gratitude that we all had dry houses to go home to after a long day of work – so many thousands of people lost theirs, and my heart and prayers are with them.
I met several people this week who had been evacuated and were trying to catch a ride on any passing canoe or motor boat to be taken to their house to see what amount of water damage they might be facing, and hoping upon hope that they might soon be able to go back home and leave the ranks of those displaced by Hurricane Harvey.
My hands have blisters, my feet have blisters, muscles ache in places I didn’t know that was a possibility, and I have become intimately acquainted with my husband’s crow bar and sheet rock saw. My feet never want to see the inside of my soggy water shoes again, ever. And while what I have done has made me tired (not a bad thing), what I have done is nothing. A molecule of the proverbial drop in the bucket.
And that’s the beauty of what I have seen this week.
The beauty of the hope, strength, and love of God shown through people.
People showing up with hot meals, and cases of bottled water.
People cheerfully working alongside others they have never met before and may never meet again.
People who know and love Chad and Misty, and people who don’t and were just looking for a place to help.
People coming from hours away just to be present during this crisis and lend another strong back and pair of hands to the effort.
One sweet young teacher came to help and broke down in tears when she saw the classroom she had just last week finished decorating for the fall, now a total soggy devastated mess. Soon she had worship music playing in her room as she set about the task at hand, taking a stand for others to follow.
People displaced from their own homes and sheltering at our church were willing to take care of workers’ children during the day (God bless them!) and have a hot meal waiting for us at the end of it.
People came in the morning, wading across a flooded field to even get to the school building, and left at the end of the day, battered, blistered, and bleeding, but still cheerful with the joy of pulling together to prove that in the end, Hurricane Harvey doesn’t win.
And by God’s grace, something even more beautiful than before will arise from these ashes – even when it’s too wet to give Him ashes to work with.
When looking too far ahead is paralyzing, and not looking ahead at all is depressing, God reminds us of the simplicity of looking to Him daily for the grace, strength, and wisdom for that day. Like manna, we must gather what we need for today, and then do it again tomorrow, and the next day. Jesus reminded us of that in the Lord’s Prayer when He taught us to ask, with humility and gratitude, for our daily bread.
In times of crisis, when that’s all you can do, it is enough.
Not because of the mechanics of asking or the length of our prayers, or because we were good and are somehow worthy, but because of the loving Father who waits for us to come to Him so that He can fill us with His peace and presence.
Psalm 123:1-2 (NIV) says, “I lift up my eyes to You, to You whose throne is in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till He shows us His mercy.”
A slave receives all provision from his master. A maid receives all direction from her mistress. Likewise, we look daily to our gracious Father who provides us with the provision and direction we need.
Reuben Morgan’s Hillsong hit, “Still” has been running through my mind all week:
Hide me now
Under Your wings
Within Your mighty hand
When the oceans rise
And the thunders roar
I Will soar with You Above the storm
Father, You are King Over the flood
And I will be still
And know You are God
Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know His power
In quietness and trust
This is just one story out of thousands. If you too are suffering the effects of Harvey or some other disaster in another part of the world, my prayers are with you today. Better still – God’s grace, provision, and direction are available to you for the asking.
If you would like to give to the flood relief effort for Chad and Misty’s school (which is not covered by flood insurance), here is a link to the crowdfunding page that has been set up on their behalf.
With faith, hope, and love,