The Waters of Change

Tears welled in their eyes as the dark waters quickly rose. There was no time to save anything but themselves. The boat pulled away, raindrops drumming on its aluminum surface as they took one last lingering look at their home, not knowing the condition they would next see it in…

There are many thousands across Louisiana that could relate to that narrative. Being a lifelong resident of the state, talk of flooding is nothing new. Seeing that flooding break records though is. Last week an estimated 4 trillion gallons came down upon us, with some regions reporting as much as 30 inches of rain being measured over a three-day period. Putting it into perspective, that’s enough water to fill over 6 million Olympic – sized swimming pools!

Flooding of course was inevitable under those disastrous conditions, and that flooding was truly  historic!

It has been called “unprecedented,” seeing over 40,000 homes impacted to some degree, with nearly 30,000 people requiring rescue and, as of the time of this writing, over 8,000 displaced individuals remaining in shelters across the state. In the midst of it all, more than a hundred roads had to be closed, not only stranding motorists in the midst of the waters, but also isolating several towns from the world at large.

Residing in the central region of the state, my immediate family and I were spared. We received our share of rain, to be sure, but we sat at an elevation high enough here to ensure our safety. My wife and I know many though that were not so lucky, friends and extended family alike. Lives change dramatically at times like this. Property is damaged, livelihoods are stalled, loved ones lost to the darkness of the moment. Lives invariably and inescapably change in the face of such an immovable, indifferent force. For some, all seems lost, hope a distant and futile dream. It’s  always the same with natural disasters, the oblivious monsters that they are.

In the midst of storm, when all seems useless and the horror of the moment comes to a poignant head, we are often numb to the fact that, though so much has gone wrong, something yet continues on, something that should give us pause: We yet live.

As the flood waters abate and the sun shines once again, activity will return to the forsaken lands. Stagnant communities will come together in support of their neighbors. Homes and business will be rebuilt. The land will be restored and normalcy will resume. All these things will happen for they must. There will be scars across the land and in our minds, but life, though different now to some extent, must and will go on.

We often miss the fact that, as destructive as floods can be, in a sense they can also be constructive, the rising waters acting as a force for transformation and growth, a force of beneficial change that not only reintroduces nutrients to the soils, but also scours the land, cleaning the slate, so to speak, allowing fresh life to take hold. The land is changed, true, but it is also, in a sense, restored, reborn…

Under other circumstances, waters rising around us are symbolic of another force of transformation and growth. As a new Christian some years back, I happily recall being baptized, submerged beneath the cool waters before my friends and family. For those who have been saved, who have confessed their sins to Christ, turning away from their old ways to face Him, the act of baptism is an outward testimony of the profound internal change they have experienced; a physical declaration of a spiritual change.

Consider the writings of the Apostle Paul in the Book of Romans:

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” -Romans 6:3‭-‬4 KJV-

Baptism is thus reflective of Jesus’s sacrifice for each of us: the death of our old life not unlike His crucifixion , our sins having been “buried” beneath the waves just as He was entombed in the grave, and our raising from the waters, in the very manner of His victorious rising from the grave, is a testament of our spiritual renewal, our clean rebirth.

Though we are born again through a spiritual baptism, publicly testifying to that fact through a baptism of water, there must be a reliance on our Savior to lead us along in our new life. Though we may be reborn, we must keep our eyes in Him, on His Word, on His Kingdom, for though troubles will come, be they spiritual hurdles and tests or the murky waters of a flood, if He is with us what then shall we truly fear?

Believer or otherwise, we must all accept that, over the course of our lives, we will be visited repeatedly by the waters of change, oftentimes coming in a form that we can neither avoid nor alter, and depending on our outlook, they may sweep us under or rise us up. My prayers are with every soul that has been and will be impacted by the rising waters, be they in the midst of the flood or in the cool of the baptistry. May God be with each as they face a new day.

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