When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.” Isaiah 43:2
It was only three hours away, but it was another world. A short while ago a horrible and intensely powerful flash flood ravaged a small town in Western Tennessee. A small, benign creek traced its way through the center of town. It is appropriately named, “Trace Creek.” Normally only a couple of feet deep, it gently winds for several miles surrounded by hills. On a Saturday, a storm system set up shop right over that region and seventeen inches of rain fell in a short period of time. Disaster was coming.
As the rainwater funneled from the hills to the valley, Trace Creek became the collecting point and soon what was a benign creek became a killing flood. The water rose not in hours but minutes—not in inches, but feet. A railroad bed that was holding some of the torrent back gave way and a twenty-foot wall of water came down on the town. As it did, death and destruction struck on what can be only described as “biblical proportions.” As the kid’s song from Sunday school says, the flood was deep, and the flood was wide.
In that short period of time cars became boats and houses were swept off their foundations. Fences were laid over and trees and power poles were simply bowled over by the force of the water. Sadly, over twenty people lost their lives and many, many more, were injured. I’m sure no one went to bed the night before dreaming of a flood, at least not of this proportion. It was a nightmare from nowhere. In a couple or three hours it was over leaving behind a disaster zone that will take years to recover and rebuild. Some, like the loss of life, will never be the same.
Our church had a personal touch with this small West Tennessee town as a couple of our families moved there last year. While they were safe, many of their friends were not. They quickly became important cogs in the wheels of rescue and recovery and that’s where we had an opportunity to help. We had recently hosted our “Back to School” community event and because of COVID, the crowd had been smaller than in previous years and we had many school supply bags left over and several hundred pair of shoes. We were disappointed, but suddenly something began to make sense. It was an opportunity.
At the invitation of one of churches there, we loaded up the supplies and shoes and headed to West Tennessee. When we arrived, the destruction was beyond description. Our small Southern Illinois city had suffered an F-4 tornado in 2012 so we knew about disasters but this, this was beyond even what we had experienced. Soon we were setup and giving away the supplies and shoes. There were stories, there were tears, and there were thanks. At the end of a hot day, we were the ones who were blessed.
As was the case for us in 2012, their town actually experienced another kind of flood…a flood of kindness, generosity, and love. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people poured in to offer any help they could give. Restaurants and stands were set up offering free food and supplies. Life necessities were given to anyone with a need. It was amazing especially in a world of “me first”. It was obvious that is not always the case. Love and generosity ruled the day.
Across the street from where we were working was a house that had been flooded with about four feet of water. As cleanup started, the owners had emptied all of their contents and piled them by the road. I looked and in one of the discarded chairs was a large, white Bible. It didn’t seem right to see it discarded, so I went and asked the owners if I could get it and take it home. They were grateful. You see, it had been wet in the flood and couldn’t stay, but it’s present place, in the trash, was not a statement of their faith. They just didn’t know what to do. So, it is with me…a reminder of my day in that small West Tennessee town…a town called Waverly.
The story of the Bible, and that it was not discarded because of a lack of faith, was a blessing to me. People in that disaster didn’t give up on God or each other for that matter. They chose to still believe…in God, in their town, and in each other. As I said it will take years, but Waverly will come back, and they will be stronger than before. Their situation reminds me of a verse in the Old Testament that says, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.”
You see, even in the midst of disaster, even when our circumstances don’t make a lick of sense, and these days that is often every day, well, He is still there. Even when we go through the darkest valley we don’t have to fear because He is with us. No matter how high the water or how hard the circumstances, listen, and you will hear the Whisperer whispering, “Rest in Me. I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne