I know I haven’t posted in a few days. Sunday night we evacuated from Sweeny. It was a difficult night, not as difficult as many had it, but difficult none the less. A good bit of Monday we were still trying to get to my retirement home and did finally make it Monday afternoon. It isn’t usually that long of a drive but avoiding flood waters wasn’t easy. Yesterday was spent mostly resting. I wanted to post something today but I am going to leave the last chapter and a half of Matthew for a bit. Perhaps I will pick it back up tomorrow or maybe in a week or two. With what the Gulf Coast in general and the Texas Gulf Coast, in particular, has experienced over the past week, I have a few things to talk about. So, here we go….
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand at the mountain before the Lord. The Lord is passing by.” A very strong wind tore through the mountains and broke apart the stones before the Lord. But the Lord wasn’t in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake. But the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake, there was a fire. But the Lord wasn’t in the fire. After the fire, there was a sound. Thin. Quiet. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his coat. He went out and stood at the cave’s entrance. A voice came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah” (2 Kings 19:11-13, Common English Bible).
I woke up this morning with the above passage going through my mind. As I started thinking about this passage a paraphrase started going through my mind and began to take shape….
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand before the Lord. The Lord is passing by.” A very strong wind tore through the streets and broke apart the trees, broke windows and tore rooves from homes. But the Lord wasn’t in the wind. After the wind, there was rain. The rain left everything wet in its wake. But the Lord wasn’t in the rain. 12 After the rain, there were flood waters. There were flood waters that filled fields and roads and homes. But the Lord wasn’t in the flood waters. After the flood waters, there was a sound. Thin. Quiet. 13 When we heard it, we covered our faces. We stood before the devastation caused by the wind, the rain, and the flood waters. A voice came and said, “Why are you here?” (2 Kings 19:11-13, Keith Paraphrased Version).
I have seen a few posts on the internet in general and Facebook in particular that, while the word patterns might fit, the words themselves are just wrong. “The devastation of Harvey is due to the evilness of Houston and Harvey is God’s wrath to punish the city.” While the posts are out there, the theology is all wet, if you will pardon the pun.
That being said, I have seen God in all this. It may be hard for some to see the presence of God when the world, at least their personal world seems to be crumbling around them. It may be hard to see God when sitting in a Red Cross emergency shelter, sometimes more than 100 miles from home. It may be hard to see God when, like me, you are sitting, even sitting comfortably, waiting, but so far away from where you so want to be. Yes, I am enjoying a few unexpected days with Cindy, but right now, my heart is with the people of Sweeny. That is where I want to be.
I have seen God in this crisis as I have seen city and county officials from various municipalities and counties all along the Texas Gulf Coast who, despite personal sacrifices have maintained a calm steady hand of leadership. They have taken heat and criticism for decisions they have made. I feel certain these decisions were made with the best interests of citizens at heart. I believe they were made using the best information they had at the time. “For as you’ve done it to one of the least of these…” Yes, I have seen God today.
I have seen God in the people who, often at risk to their own lives, have volunteered their time and their treasure to come into communities where they have known no one and owe nothing. They did it because they know that lives matter. They know that talk is cheap and actions are what is important in times like these. “For as you’ve done it to one of the least of these…” Yes, I have seen God today.
I have seen God in people in the media who have tried to predict the unpredictable and forecast that which cannot be forecasted. I have seen God in those who have tried to lead others out of dangerous situations and back to safety with their knowledge of roadways and freeways. I saw God in a CNN crew that put down their microphones and cameras to save lives in the flood waters. “For as you’ve done it to one of the least of these…” Yes, I have seen God today.
I have seen God in the first responders. Again, these are people who have risked their lives to help ensure our safety. I have seen God in the countless people who have made their way into work long hours with little rest in hospitals and nursing homes and fire stations and police beats. I have seen God in National Guard troops and soldiers from Fort Hood who are here rescuing people from rising water. In the efforts of all these, at least one lost his life. “For as you’ve done it to one of the least of these…” Yes, I have seen God today.
I have seen God in the words of many bloggers I know who, in their own way have tried to contribute to the things needing to be done. They work to share words of good cheer, words of comfort, words of God so that others might gain strength for the incredible journey still to complete. “For as you’ve done it to one of the least of these…” Yes, I have seen God today.
Right now, God has put me in Lufkin and has started putting ideas into my head, ideas like this post, as ways I can serve and help from where I am right now. I can, hopefully, bring comfort to the people I know and love, whether part of my church or others through words God has for me to say. In other words, God can work through me and I pray others don’t see me, but God who lives within me.
I pray in these difficult days you are safe and well and that you feel God’s blessings this day.
With Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.