For thirty-six hours relentless downpours pounded Southeast Saskatchewan and Manitoba; eight and a half inches in my backyard, according to a bucket on the deck.
On the morning the water began seeping up through the sodden ground onto farmfields and into homes, I walked past an open songbook on our keyboard and smiled. “God Leads Us Along,” stretched across the top of the page. Without needing to read the words, I began humming the reassuring hymn I’ve sung since childhood. The one that has reminded so many Christ-followers that God never leaves our side, even during times of chaos and disaster. That alone is reason to sing…
“Some through the water, some through the flood, some through the fire, but all through (Christ’s) blood. Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song, in the night season and all the day long.”
Those songs vary.
“Happy eighteenth anniversary to you…” local Christian radio host Michelle Walker and her husband Dionne may have sung to each other as they wet-vaccuumed and hauled out the sodden contents of their basement that day.
“When we all work together, together, together… when we all work together, we get the job done!” I sang as we did the same at our house, with the much-appreciated help of daughter Amanda and son-in-law, Kendall.
“Our God reigns,” I heard from other believing friends during the worst of the flood weekend — a reminder that nothing happens to us that God has not allowed. That he is sovereign, that he brings good things from bad and that if we keep our hearts and spiritual eyes open, we’ll find them eventually.
Rain falls on everyone, good and bad, Jesus said in Matthew 5:45. We can’t prevent it, but we can choose how to respond to it.
Our friends responded with a heartsong of thanksgiving after a recent fire destroyed their two cars, a garage and a shed. Miraculously, only one corner of the siding on their house burned. Weeks later, the song has increased, as they’ve seen more evidence of God’s protection and provision over their lives and relationships.
I’ve lived long enough to realize something huge. Every time I get what I’ve really wanted, pined for or simply hoped for, it comes with a down-side I never expected: cost, maintenance, worry, others’ jealousy, even a struggle against pride. But whenever I’ve gotten something I didn’t want, didn’t expect or even feared, I find, somewhere in the aftermath, rich blessings I couldn’t have received otherwise.
As I write, the sun shines. The rain has stopped. Birds sing. Extra water seeps back into the earth and blessings have emerged: We found reason to get together, to work side by side, to take in and/or feed tired and needy strangers, to encourage each other and laugh at ourselves. Yes, we lost some things, but we found kindness and love.
We’ll long remember the Saskatchewan flood of 2014. Let’s also remember that the flood of God’s mercy stretched deeper and wider.