Lots of emotions as I watch the news about Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent flooding in south Texas. I’m especially saddened for friends in the Houston area, wondering what, if anything, will be left of their homes when they’re able to return.
As sad as I was watching the news, I couldn’t help but think of the old preacher’s joke about the guy who’s trapped on his roof during a flood. He stubbornly refuses the help of two boats and a helicopter who offer their assistance, insisting that he doesn’t need their help because God will save him! Later when he drowns and goes to heaven, he’s perplexed as to why God didn’t rescue him, to which God replies, “What do you mean, I didn’t save you?! I sent you two boats and a helicopter!”
Heartbreaking as it was to witness all the people out in their boats, air mattresses and on each other’s shoulders, carrying strangers to safety, seeing those images did my heart good. Plenty of first responders – the people whose profession it is to save lives – but just plain citizens, too. People who live next door and realized their elderly neighbor might need some help. Guys who had a boat and wanted to use it, going up the street, shouting to come out of your house if you need some help.
Grown men lifted in wire baskets to the safety of a helicopter. Women stranded on the hood of their car all night, rescued by a passing boat. A baby wrapped in its mother’s arms, wrapped in a man’s arms, wading through three feet of water to safety.
Neighbors being neighbors. Doing unto others what they’d want somebody to do for them.
And nobody was spending any time trying to figure out who their neighbor was. Making sure this was someone from their neighborhood, from their community. Nobody was asking about what anybody believed or where they stood on a particular issue.
Especially if they were the one trapped in the water.
Funny how nothing that you thought mattered about a person before, matters when you need help. You just climb into the boat. Or into the arms of the stranger willing to lift you out of the mess you’re in.
I loved hearing one of the reporters comment, “You know, no one is angry down here. They’re just focused on rescuing people. And the people who are rescued are grateful.”
Just neighbors loving neighbors.
Rowing boats. Flying helicopters. Commandeering air mattresses.
Rescuing the perishing.
Doing the Lord’s work.