My phone rang at 7am yesterday morning. A dear friend in Georgia was calling to ask if we were ok. If we had survived the flood.
And yes, thankfully, we have. But many have not. The flood waters have affected many family members and friends all over the city of Houston.
My sister-in-law’s sister spent the night in her car in a grocery store parking lot until her father could make his way through the waters in his truck and pick her up the next morning.
A family we know and love has water flooding the entire downstairs of their house. They sent a picture of a tub of their girls’ shoes floating next to a small sofa in their mud room. Their prayer was to ask that the “waters would not reach to the second floor.”
I received another text from a fellow school mom asking in anyone lived close to the Meyerland area of Houston and had access to a kayak or canoe. Friends of theirs were stranded in their flooding house, the woman is pregnant with their third child, and they were on the wait list for 9-1-1 to come pick them up.
And last time I checked, water was starting to seep through the floorboards of the lowest room in our house. Our furniture is stacked up against the wall and overflows into the bathroom.
Stories like this abound this rainy Sunday morning in Houston. And from what the weather reports are telling us, we still have five more days of rain to expect with five inches of rain per day. The only place is has to go is up and in unless our drainage system starts working in unexpected ways.
But there is a strange, supernatural peace in the midst of the flood when you know the One who sits enthroned above the flood.
“The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
The Lord gives strength to his people;
the Lord blesses his people with peace.” Psalm 29:10-11
Perhaps peace seems strange if you are standing outside the flood; but inside the flood is strength and the presence of the Lord, no matter the height of the waters.
Several months ago, I listened to a sermon by Tim Keller on Psalm 91, an often quoted Psalm and prayer during times of distress and danger. The sermon was excellent (find the link to it here), but one truth he shared has run over and over in my mind through the last few days and has become my prayer for my city and the people I love.
The key, Keller says (and I’m paraphrasing here), to understanding Psalm 91 is verses 14-16:
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Notice that it says God does not save us from trouble, but God saves us in trouble. In the flood waters, not without. In the flames, not outside. In the battle, not from the battle.
And standing on top of the temple mount with Satan on the outside and a hungry stomach from a forty day fast on the outside, Jesus understood this truth best of all. For Psalm 91:11-12 is the portion of Scripture Satan quoted to Jesus during the time of his temptation:
Then the devil took [Jesus] to the holy city and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said,”‘throw yourself down. For it is written:
‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” (Matthew 4:5-7)
The ultimate temptation for Christ Himself was to twist God’s Word and make it mean something it doesn’t. It was to put God to the test, making Him prove to His people that by keeping us out of trouble, He loves us more than if He allowed us to go through it.
But that’s not what God’s Word says or means. God does allow His people to go through times of trouble when the flood waters rise. Waters of emotional distress, spiritual distress, and physical distress. But He is with us, in the flood, in the fire, every step of the way.
And come what may, walking through the flood with the presence of God by your side is better than being on dry ground without Him. That is one thing I am confident of after forty years of living. We may not emerge from the flood without trouble; but we will emerge from flood with the tangible, powerful, shepherding presence of God with us, in the midst of trouble, every step of the way.
And that is where I find peace for myself, my city, and for my family and friends.
Thank you for praying for Houston; please continue to do so. And please pray that many would come to know the One who is King over the flood and in the flood, King of our hearts, come what may.