In the story of the three men and the fiery furnace we are told after they are delivered from the fire — a fire so hot it incinerated the men who tossed them in — that not only were they not burnt they didn’t smell of fire.
They. Didn’t. Smell. Of. Fire.
Today your house is likely flooded. If not, you know someone. More than one someone. And their house is flooded.
Their heart is breaking. And your heart is breaking for them. My heart is breaking for them.
It’s really surreal.
Louisiana knows hurricanes. We know water. I’ve been here just ten years and I feel a sort of veteran about the water thing. It makes no sense for me to feel this way. I’m an absolute amateur with the flooding in truth. But, the high water that comes with hurricanes begins to feel like something that just comes with the territory. Kind of the price you pay for living in such an incredible place.
Frankly, would we all stay with the threat of such imminent horrible hurricanes were this place not so unique and so extraordinary? It’s like the ticket for getting to live in the place that says “laissez le bon temps rouler.” The good times roll here. Even in the this mess.
I’ve seen a lot of resilience in the last two days. A lot of sweat and a lot of tears. And a lot of hilarious jokes and the kind of stamina and sense of humor that comes with living in this place. But, laying just underneath is the pain. It’s the uncertainly.
It’s the truth.
It’s the truth.
It is reality. It’s simmering underneath the Cajun jokes and the praise. The pain of starting over. The challenge of replacing. The trial. This is a trial to be sure. It’s not an easy thing.
And I think again of the fire. In Isaiah 43:2 we are told about both water and fire so closely together:
“I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.”
We are told we will not burn up. Thanks to Noah we know that the whole earth won’t flood. But, for many folks tonight the truth is that their whole world is under water. It’s wet. It’s soggy.
Many Louisiana hands are pruned and their hearts are taking on discouragement just the way the houses took on water — slowly and then suddenly all at once. And then as it began to come in, it was as though the tide could not be reversed.
Tonight I pray for strength and I ask that you do the same. Because it’s easy to say “it’s just stuff” and we are safe. But, our “stuff” symbolizes a lot. There’s a reason we hold onto all of it. It means something to us. Our houses are more than bricks and wood. They are our homes and our security and our refuge at the end of the day.
Tonight, I want to remind you that your refuge is in Christ alone. And you don’t have to pay a premium for this all surpassing security. This absolute fortress was already paid for entirely just for you.
In the coming days things may or may not get easier. I do not know what we will wake to tomorrow. But, God does. And in that I find comfort and now I’m back again to the three men in the furnace and their life AFTER the fire. Because we all know there will be life AFTER the water.
And it won’t be the same again.
And this is okay.
It won’t be the same again. And this is okay.
You won’t be the same again.
And this is okay.
So, why didn’t these men smell like smoke? How do you go through the fire and come out the other side not smelling of smoke? How do you go through the waters and sit in the rising flood and not smell of mildew after?
It requires a miracle.
It requires a miracle from the author and perfecter of our faith. It takes a village. It’s going to take people being the hands of feet and doing the hard things for our neighbors and showing them on earth what our Father’s love looks like — lavish and sacrificial.
And so the waters will recede and we will rise. And you don’t have to smell of mildew. No matter what your home looks like as you lay your head tonight, believe that God is able to restore and redeem every single thing that was swept away. Including your peace.
Tonight I pray that this never ending rain does something beautiful. Something you never expected.
I pray it helps us hold our people tighter and our possessions more loosely.
I pray it shows the world (again) that Louisiana is a truly special place.
And I pray above all that you are washed tonight with a peace that surpasses understanding.