The floods started on a warm, dry day. It was late spring and no rain had fallen in a week, but upstream and out of sight, the unusually warm weather was rapidly melting the remaining snowpack in the mountains. The rivers swelled and began to slip over their banks, threatening the homes that surrounded them.
Out of unseen places
Some of the most powerful, and sometimes destructive, currents in our lives flow out of unseen places. Old, half-remembered emotional injuries in our formative years, patterns and insecurities inadvertently handed down to us through the generations of our families, and even mental illness.
As Christians, I think sometimes we treat our faith like a magic band aid we can slap over these unseen wounds, and expect them to heal instantly with no further care. But the Bible makes no such promises, and just as physical healing usually takes time and treatment, so does the internal.
There were people paying attention to what was happening in the mountains before that warm spring day, and flood warnings were issued ahead of time. In preparation people, animals and property had been protected - shored up with sandbags or moved out of the path of the flood entirely. Roads in danger of being washed out had been closed, and riverbanks in danger of collapsing had been cleared and warnings posted.
If there had been no one watching what was happening in the mountains, or if people in the path of the water had refused to take seriously the flood warnings, the damage could’ve been much worse than it was.
Growing up in the church, I was never comfortable with stories in the Bible where God pronounced a multi-generational curse on a family, to be handed down through future generations. It seemed unfair. But now I see these curses not so much as the orders of an angry God, but recognition of a truth we see and experience. Left unaddressed, we do pass on the unseen things that hurt us, not only to future generations, but through all of our close relationships.
If we do not look for or acknowledge the unseen and potentially destructive currents in our own lives, we leave our homes and most important relationships exposed to them.
After the flood
The Nile river floods yearly. When the waters recede damp, black earth is left behind along the riverbanks. It is ideal soil for farming. In fact, it is this flooding cycle and the wealth it brought those early Egyptians that built the Egyptian empire. But it wouldn’t have been enough for those farmers only to watch the flood. They had to go down to the places the water had covered to clear away debri and plant their seeds, and care for the crops that grew there.
The unconditional love of God flows from a much higher place, and it’s current is more powerful than any of the others in our lives. The safety and certainty of that love gives us the courage to step down into the flooding places in our lives. And it is that love we find laboring alongside us as we shore up everything we care about against the rising water, and then begin to plant new seeds in its wake.
Christina Jones is a Press Service International young writer from Washington State USA.