One of the most miserable days of our first year of marriage came when we were gone for most of the day and came back to find two inches of water in our basement. An even more distressing discovery was the presence of our own running garden hose stuck into one of the basement window wells. An out-of-control neighbor kid thought it would be a great thrill to put some water in our basement. Carol was distraught—she had cardboard boxes of papers and pictures on the basement floor that were now a total loss. But I cannot imagine the crushing Houston experience of seeing rising water up to your eaves.
A staggering total of 51 inches of rain fell in just a couple of days. That hardly seems possible. The death toll is still climbing as city workers go through neighborhoods house by house. But at least the waters are going down and the city is drying out again. Can you imagine what life was like for the people outside Noah’s ark when it rained with that intensity not for 3 days but 40? And when the water from above was joined by a massive eruption of the aquifers from below?
People in Houston who heeded the warnings were able to get safely to higher ground. During the great flood of Genesis chapters 6-9, there was nowhere to go. After 40 days of relentless water, “the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits (about 23 feet)” (7:19,20). That flood was unique—it was a punishment upon a human race that had become totally corrupt. But when the waters came down and Noah and his family emerged from their floating zoo barge, God invented the beautiful colored arc that we call the rainbow. That sign in the heavens was originally designed to assure fearful sinners that there would be no more universal judgment floods.
The rainbow today has been hijacked to signify something completely different. But Harvey’s ominous and destructive floodwaters can still serve as a wake-up call that earth’s time is running out. A day of judgment is coming, and the earth as we know it will be dismantled and rebuilt. Now is the time to repent of our sins and look up to Jesus for the forgiveness that we need. When Harvey’s floodwaters were rising with alarming speed, there was no longer any time to go and buy a boat. When sun and moon fail, when the trumpet of heaven blasts and the archangel gives his great shout, there will be no more time for churchgoing or Bible reading. Now is the time.
The restorative power that God built into nature is encouraging. Noah was probably surprised at how quickly fertility returned to his environment. We pray for that same restoration to southeast Texas, assisted by the love, generosity, and selfless service of the American people. I hope you’ll join me in praying for and sending a gift to Houston.
Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus, a multicultural congregation on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of six books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics.
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