Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Praising God in This Storm

I was awakened by my husband’s rapid exit from our bedroom at around 2:00 a.m. the morning of September 12. He had heard knocking on the doors of other trailers in our little park and he knew something was seriously wrong. Before I could ask him what was wrong out the door he went. I got up, put on my robe, and went to the living room where I noticed the red and blue flashing lights of two emergency vehicles parked outside. One was parked in front of our trailer and the other one just to the right, almost in the road. Sheriff’s deputies were knocking on people’s doors telling them to gather what they could and get out NOW! While we gathered a few belongings the Emergency Warning System sirens went off. I packed the few things I’d put together and got in the car. Robbie mounted his scooter and we headed for higher ground. I had no clue how drastically our lives were about to change.

We ended up at the Elementary School where the generous Lyons community rallied around the evacuees, bringing in blankets, clothing, pet food and kennels, snacks and toys for the little ones. It was truly amazing to witness the support given by those whose homes were not being threatened. One of the folks we saw during our evacuation was Pastor Mickey. Due to a really busy summer I hadn't been to church since our wedding in May and it was just so good to see him walking through the halls hugging and encouraging people, as he always does. It was the first "normal" thing to happen since we got there. Shortly after Pastor Mickey left to continue his mission of encouragement, a song popped into my head and it's  been there ever since. It is "Praise You in This Storm" by Casting Crowns. The first verse says:

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining.

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you".
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away.

And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

Life has gotten back on track, and we're developing a "new normal". We're back to work and will be moving into an apartment later this month. But it still feels like a storm is raging in my heart sometimes. Like when I make the trek to Lyons to see what we can possibly salvage from our former home or when I drive by The River Church property. I continue to sing this song in my head when I feel the flood waters of fear rising up in my soul.

I went out to help clean up at the church's property last Wednesday, and it broke my heart to see the condition of The River. The grassy yard where my grandfather walked me down the aisle at my wedding is gone. The massive wooden deck where we spoke our vows is gone. It was violently washed away, along with parts of the concrete foundation that used to be under the sanctuary. You can see the "new" river flowing by from inside the sanctuary where the floor is sagging. The mound of ruined items in front of the church continues to grow. We lost our church building and many of us, including Robbie and me, lost our homes.  Others incurred great damage and to their homes and property.

Life has been a little bit harder and scarier since that day. We all face a lot of uncertainty. But the flood also brought with it tremendous blessings. Through this disaster we've seen miracles of love and generosity that we would have missed out on had this tragic event not occurred. Personally, I've received enormous amounts of encouragement, love and assistance from co-workers, friends and family. We've had people all over the world praying for us, thanks to blogs, the news, email, Facebook and Twitter! That is truly miraculous!

The River's building was wrecked and people's houses have been lost and damaged. But the good news is that the building and the grounds are not the church and the houses are not the homes. The church, as Pastor Mickey has said so many times, is God's people and a house is only a home because of the people who make their lives there. We are all still here, daily praising the God who gives and takes away! It's kind of like Job in the Old Testament. Our God is bigger than this flood! He is our Strength and our Encourager. He is our Father who loves us and will make all things new and He will show us all how to move forward and how to grow stronger because of all that has happened.

"Every tear I've cried, He holds in His hand. He's never left my side. And though my heart is torn, I will praise Him in this storm."

Lynda Anderson-Clayton

1 comment:

  1. So so encouraging...thanks for sharing your story Lynda.