Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Flood: Gift #2

This is the third post about my apartment's flood this weekend. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

Most of the time, when God pulls back the curtain and shows me how he's using temporal difficulties for eternal good, it's enough. It's enough to give me peace, contentment, and deep satisfaction. It's enough to keep me hoping, my hand still at the plow. 

For 24 hours, anyway. 

Because often, not long after the curtain closes, anxiety suffocates and darkness settles, and it's hard to remember how God is using the sandy right now to prepare me and others for his glorious, eternal Kingdom, and God, don't forget about me, because I'm made of dust, and I need you to comfort me and remind me, again and again, that you love me and are attentive to me and I don't have to be afraid of the future. 

This week, a few days into the tearing up and repairing of my flood-affected apartment, I stopped by my place to pick up some more clothes and my mail. And by mail, I mean bills. Because what other kind of snail mail is there in this technology-dominated world?

But lo and behold, there was a letter sitting on top of that pile of bills! Addressed to me! With an accompanying package mailed from the same person!

I tore the letter open and read the first line as I walked down the steps to my place:

"Dear Sarah,

Ever since you were a little girl you have been special to me."

I stopped walking to blink back crocodile tears, because if there's one thing I needed to know that day, it's that I was special to someone. 

I looked back down at the pale yellow paper and read the next line. I recognized the handwriting. It belonged to a woman who attends my family's church and has watched me grow from the time I was two. She'd written me before, when I first broke off my engagement, and then written me again, and then again, when my illness raged on. I can't know, but I suspect she has been one of my most faithful prayer warriors these last 3 1/2 hard years.

A few minutes into the morning quiet, I finished reading the letter, my eyes wide with awe. Because the date was postmarked two days before my flood, so she couldn't have known, and I haven't had more then a few brief conversations with her when I've visited home these last several years, but somehow she knew. She knew that I've been treading quicksand, that my life is not what I've always hoped it would be, and that the future often seems dark and unbearable. She knew that I needed reminding that I am deeply loved by a God who is always at work and who inhabits the past, present, and future. 

I finished reading the letter and then stood in silence, feeling certain that God had prompted this woman to write me, days before my flood, with the knowledge that I would need some extra encouragement when I was feeling especially disoriented, displaced, and anxious about my post-flood future. The realization reminded me of a verse from one of my favorite Psalms:
As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
This letter felt like the Father's compassion, scribbled across lined pages, stuffed into an envelope, mailed several hundred miles, and prompted by a God who knows the future. A God who has promised that he is abounding in love and quick to show compassion because he remembers our weakness and need. Because God's promises turn dusty people in trusted servants, and pits of quicksand into wells of Living Water. 

I turned to the package accompanying the letter and open it up. Inside was a short book entitled, "Parables by the Sea," written by a Christian woman who, in the middle of long, sandy seasons, found reminders of God's promises scattered across the sea shore. I turned the pages brightened with photographs of sandy shells, tide pools, and ocean waves, and felt like the parables were written just for me — more gifts of compassion from the Father who wanted to use my apartment's flood to remind me of his love for me and intention to use this little life of mine for big things.

The parables reminded me of God's plan for my life — a plan that predated my conception. They assured me of God's desire to do more in my life than I could ever dream — to invade my barrenness of spirit and put his vibrant life in me. And they redirected my gaze from my own insufficiency to the power of a good God who will 

And then I turned to the last page of the book, a full-page photograph of a woman walking down the sand with ocean waves crashing at her feet. In the bottom left corner of the page, I read,

Three times the Promiser had spoken...
His pattern for me,
His pulsating life in me,
His power through me.
God's flood tide!

A couple of days later I headed to the beach near my aunt and uncle's house where I've been staying. The sun shone and seagulls soared while I watched the waves ripple and churn and lick the sandy shore. As the sun sank lower, the waves reached further, creeping toward me, engulfing the sand. And I remembered the last line of my letter:

"The future is as bright as the promises of God."

God is kind, compassionate, mindful of our weakness, working to grow his life in us, and waiting for us to call on his power. It's a flood of promises that Christians can't escape — come what may, these promises will creep nearer and reach further, engulfing our sandy disappointments and reflecting the Light. 

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 © by scj


  1. Now I'm in tears! The good kind, but definitely tears. :-)

    1. It's a good tears kind of week, I guess. ;)

  2. WOW! Thank you for this encouragement and reminding me to focus on things above. My older daughter and I often sing a little VBC song to each other that we learned a few years ago whenever we are confused about situations (read, OFTEN!)--"God has a plan, workin' in the world today." ~Sharon

    1. What a great song, Sharon! I do find that children's songs are my go-to when I'm feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or confused. They so simply breakdown important truths!