"But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, 'Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God. the Holy one of Israel, your Savior....You are honored, and I love you.'"
June 16, 1990. Torrential rain socked the murky, tranquil waters of Mud Creek into a torrid deluge, destroying crops and killing livestock. As unsuspecting drivers tried to force their cars through the shallow-looking water from the creek that covered the highway, they were swept away into the flood, helpless to escape on their own.
I was just I kid then. I was standing at the edge of the vast expanse of flood water with the other citizens of my tiny hometown of Soyville, Iowa (not the town's real name). The flood was a novelty at first: Mud Creek had morphed from a tiny stream to a vast river. We made jokes that the farmers should have planted rice or celery that year (corn tends to die after being drowned in ten feet of water). Life in an Iowa farm town is usually quiet, but this flood was giving us some free excitement -- we were all having fun. There was a party atmosphere.
Then all at once the mood changed. A red truck came speeding down the highway towards the flood waters. He had no way of knowing how deep the water was and before he knew it, the waves had swept him away. People gasped, screamed, and fretted as we watched helplessly from the shore.
My mother was sure his truck was going to go under the water and she told me to hide my eyes. She didn't want me to watch the man die. Fortunately, the Department of Natural Resources had a boat patroling the area and came to his rescue. They didn't fish out his truck right away, but they took him away in their boat. We never found out where.
A few minutes later another truck came down the highway, meeting the same fate as the first one. This truck was occupied by a large family of four (the two kids were under the age of five). The family climbed onto the top of the truck. A couple of my neighbors tried to go out to the family in a rowboat, but the flood's current was too strong and the boat was swept away -- fortunately, the men made it back to land.
Minutes later, Natural Resources came back in their power boat and rescued the little family and brought them to the shore in Soyville. One of the families in town took them into their house to spend the night and all of us donated food, blankets, pillows, clothing, and other necessities to make their stay more comfortable.
By the next day, the flood waters had receded, the family continued their trip to Colorado, and life went back to normal.
We don't need to be underwater to drown in a flood. Right now our country is at war, in a recession, and many of us have lost jobs, health, and homes as a result of the tumult.
God never promises that His followers won't have trouble. What God does promise, is that when we do go through the floods and fires of life, He'll be with us. We will never be alone. That's what today's text is about. The God of the Bible is not an impersonal observer of our lives, He shares our every day troubles and trials and feels our pain. Our own emotions often deter us from having faith in Him.
Sometimes when we pray and we feel like our words don't go past the ceiling, Its because Jesus is in the room with us. When we're adrift in the flood waters of life, we may not see the rescue boat coming to save us, but God is with us in the water, holding our hand and giving us air to breathe.