Your thoughts on the Great Flood of 2011?
I love Anne Lamott’s story of a man getting increasingly drunk in bar in Alaska. He’s telling the bartender how he recently lost whatever faith he’d had after his twin-engine plane crashed in the tundra.
“Yeah,” he says bitterly. “I lay there in the wreckage, hour after hour, nearly frozen to death, crying out for God to save me, praying for help with every ounce of my being, but he didn’t raise a finger to help. So I”m done with that whole charade.”
“But,” said the bartender, squinting an eye at him, “you’re here. You were saved.”
“Yeah, that’s right,” says the man. “Because finally some….Eskimo came along…”
Moments of grace and help and rescue happen all the time in our lives, if we only have eyes to see them. But too often our eyes are shaded by fear, anger, or disappointment. It is easy to look at the flood and be devastated by it all, even to the point of despair. I have to admit as the projections started coming in, I wondered what we were in for. When Idlewild was chosen to be one of the possible shelters for displaced persons who had special needs, we sent out an email asking for volunteers who could commit to at least 4 or 8 hour shifts. I was afraid we’d be embarrassed when the Office of Preparedness showed up for the training. What if we had only 4 or 5 volunteers?
We had over 80. It looks like we won’t be needed, thanks be to God. But the outpouring of people wanting to do something throughout the city was inspiring.
Let me offer another example of an act of God. One of the reasons the damage now is not nearly as bad as it was in the 1937 flood is that following that tragic flood in which several hundred people died the federal government oversaw flood control, and the Army Corps of Engineers spent billions of dollars on a vast system of reservoirs, local floodwalls and pumping stations. The expense was well worth.
This demonstrates that God can work not only in acts of compassion like feeding and sheltering displaced persons, but by using the gifts God has given us, such as our minds for careful planning to ease suffering and the courage to take stands which might be unpopular but are full of wisdom and farsightedness.