I’ve been wanting to sit down and have a good cry.
It has rained on and off for days. Last week, communities were devastated. Homes were lost, people were missing, roads were flooded. Both power AND water were off, as well.
AND…we had Vacation Bible School! It was a mess, but we pressed on. To be honest, I didn’t hear a single person complain. They smiled through the sweat, wet clothes and the rain.
On the worst night we had to cut VBS short. It had nearly monsooned but we hadn’t heard it over the loud preschool music we were dancing to. We could see through the window that it was really dark. A few were a little nervous. What if the power went off??! I suddenly wondered. There would be pandemonium! We got our phones out in case we needed emergency lights. The door opened a crack and someone-I still don’t know who-handed us a two-foot long flashlight! A few minutes later we were told to report to the sanctuary for an early dismissal.
Trees were down in the area and roads were blocked. It was crucial to get everyone home before dark. I was so disappointed! (We had more Bible School to do!) But, I totally agreed with the decision. After dismissing, it immediately stopped raining, which was a blessing.
I loaded up my car with kids to be delivered to their homes. As we made it out to the four-lane, the 10-year old in the front yelled, “Look!” I was concerned that water was in the road. “…A rainbow!” he finished. And there it was!
Seeing a rainbow in the sky brings out the kid in everybody. We all cheered and strained to catch a glimpse. “I see it! I see it!” they called from the back seat.
Tears came to my eyes. A rainbow. Of all things. And just when we needed one! Yes, God was still in control. He hadn’t said, “Oops! I forgot Fitzpatrick was having Vacation Bible School this week!” Nothing surprises Him. We can trust that He is still in charge of the universe. We can depend on Him-that He is not asleep.
In the Bible, God is called many things: a fortress, a refuge in the time of trouble, the God who saves me, the God who sees me, a rock, a hiding place, a helper, and tons of others. My favorite this week is in Isaiah 25:4: a shelter from the storm. It says, “You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.” So, through wildfires in parts of Washington, flooding in Texas, 110.6 inches of snow in Boston-last winter, monumental drought in California, and now horrendous flooding in our area, we can all be assured that we are not alone, not un-seeable, not un-loved.
Last week, a friend shared a devotional with me from ‘Jesus Calling’. Her mother read it daily. The devotion she read on the morning of June 26th said: “Stay calmly conscious of Me today, no matter what. Remember that I go before you as well as with you into the day. Nothing takes Me by surprise. I will not allow circumstances to overwhelm you, so long as you look to Me. I will help you cope with whatever the moment presents…” She-the owner of the book-had a stroke just a few hours later.
No…nothing surprises God. Sometimes life can be hard. Really hard. And sometimes bad things happen to good people. That’s what’s happened last week. I’ve heard lots of stories that have made me cry. But God is still in control. (Sometimes I have to say it out loud.)
The flooding and devastation in Johnson County-among other places-will present wonderful opportunities for believers and followers of Christ to be “Jesus with skin on”, as my beloved says. We don’t need to SAY we love Jesus…we need to SHOW we love Jesus!
Many things we can’t explain, but this we know: God is still in control. He can be our shelter from the storm.
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.