“God, where are you in this?” I asked myself. I was laying in my sleeping bag inside of a church gymnasium. I was one of the lucky few to have electricity that night. On the way to the church, I had witnessed a harrowing sight – the aftermath of a once-per-millennium flood. I was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I received a phone call on a Wednesday afternoon, I dropped everything, cleared my schedule, and at 6 AM the next morning, I was on a van on my way from Florida.
Last week, Baton Rouge experienced a flood of biblical proportions. A tropical system sat over the city for almost a week – dropping more rain on the city than most regions get in a year. As we drove through the city, abandoned cars and boats everywhere, we were able to see the water lines on the buildings, in most areas 10’ or higher. In the medians of the roads, we could see where people frantically drove on the grass, trying to escape the rapidly rising water. It was the saddest and most humbling thing I’ve ever seen. Some did not make it. Most lost their homes. Everybody lost something.
Related Post: Joy in Suffering
As I lay in my sleeping bag processing what I’d seen, God replied thunderously to me. Just kidding, does God ever reply like that? That isn’t God’s style. He replied with subtle suggestions, reminders, and ideas. That’s a blog for another day. Despite the complete destruction of an entire city, and all of the negatives, I could see God moving. This is what God put on my heart that night.
- Faith was built. In my time in Louisiana, I heard a pastor that was effected by the flood say something profound. “I always preach about faith, but now I actually have to walk in it. I have to trust that God will provide for my family. I have to trust that He will provide a new home.” This pastor’s family had lost everything – their home, their furniture, and all of their family’s photos and nick knacks. I have a feeling that God will provide for them completely in a way that only God could.
- The community came together, and good prevailed. As the water was rising, people gradually realized that their homes and cars would soon be underwater. Some were stuck in their cars on the road, some were trapped in their own homes, surrounded by a sea of water. The people of Baton Rouge banded together and formed what they called a “Cajun Navy” – a navy of rednecks (God bless rednecks!). They self-organized, met up at central command centers, and created a Facebook page where people could post their location to be rescued. Using their boats and lifted trucks (‘Merica), they rescued hundreds, possibly thousands of people. They were able to evacuate the elderly and sick in a quick and efficient manner – saving an untold number of lives.
- It gave people like myself an opportunity to step up and serve others. I was amazed by the support that people gave each other in Baton Rouge. On the first day, we helped a family who had lost everything. We had to clear out their furniture, a large tool shed, and tear out the walls of their home so that the home might be salvaged. After we finished there on day one, that same family came with us to help another family. We saw it everywhere out there – neighbor helping neighbor.