The pitter-patter of raindrops on the deck outside the porch called to me. Donning my camouflage rubber boots, rain vest, and all-weather wide-brimmed hat, I grabbed my walking staff and headed for the woods. The skies were dark even in the middle of the day. All around us the radar indicated dark green, the sign of heavy rain. The remnants of Hurricane Florence were finally upon us.
The worst was yet to come.
East of us folks had already dealt with this storm for over two days. Massive flooding and torrential rains were continuing. Here in the mountains, we were just getting started.
As my footsteps carried me deeper into the forest, overhead the canopy gave me shelter. Large drops would occasionally splatter on my brim bringing a refreshing sprinkle to my chin. The creek was already swollen but not remarkedly so. The treetops swayed by winds gusting sporadically, which would yield another gentle shower.
Those early memories began to flood my mind.
The rain had been falling for days. The Wabash was up again, and for some reason, our family had decided to go exploring the ever-mysterious “Battle Ground,” as we had always known it. As kids, we never knew the truth of its name. The stories that had been handed down over the centuries were from stories created by artifacts found when grandpa had plowed the field for planting. It was when the bottom plow pulled up broken shards of pottery and spear points, the sounds of those ancient tribesmen footsteps could be heard once more. It was a low land piece of pasture that bordered the banks of the Wabash River in Posey County on the edge of the farm where we called home. The swollen river had claimed much of the lower reaches along its estuaries, so the family simply wanted to see if it too were under water.
When we arrived, the water was a milky, brown. It swirled about the trees like ancient warriors seeking a hiding spot from which to shoot their arrows. My father had me safely perched upon his shoulders. From my vantage point, I could see the rest of the family. They waded about in the murky water as if seeking something they had lost; yet, nothing was found. The ground they had known was now engulfed by flood waters, taking with them anything which was exposed. My little body squirmed as my legs burned to seek that spinning fluidness.
“No, it’s too deep,” he would answer.
The torment upon his weary shoulders must have caused him to give in, because the next thing I remember, I was walking in the coldness. The water sent shivers up my spine. His hand firmly grasping my own. The few steps taken had been enough to quench my desire, for not long after, I was back up on top of my father’s shoulders. Inside, a sick, chill lingered. At that point, all I could think about was being back inside Grandma’s kitchen by the warm wood stove.
Not many days after that walk, my little body would succumb to pneumonia. It was then I learned about solitariness. Alone in the plastic oxygen tent in the children’s ward of Deaconess Hospital my frail, child body would slowly battle that near-fatal illness. There alone for what seemed like days, I would yearn for anyone to come speak to me. The tears of loneliness often were what cried me to sleep. Early one morning or evening, I know not which, only that the light of day was fading, there appeared a figure at the foot of my bed. I never made out his form through the unclear plastic, only that someone was with me. In his presence, the emptiness that had been before seemed to evaporate. A warmth of love washed over my soul as if another spirit had enveloped my little being. From that point forward, I never felt alone again.
Since that time, back when I was barely two years old, He has comforted me in my darkest hours again, and again. Even when I tried my best to run from Him, He never left my side.
The feeling of the Holy Spirit had wrapped his arms around me, and once more, this evening on my walk, I was reminded of that special time in my life.
Many people walk through their entire lives and never find comfort. They seek what they cannot find in places which cannot fill their void of emptiness. It is as if they continue to flounder in a fluidness from whence they cannot escape. Like water, we can either choose to sink or swim. It is our choice. Our spiritual life is no different; we have a choice.
Jesus told his disciples, “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
My friends, take the life-line he has given you. Don’t think you can go it alone. Everyone that asketh shall receive, if only you will ask.
Water is an amazing property. When we drink it, we are made well. Too much of it and we can drown. Spiritually, we can be Baptized in it and made anew, once we have found salvation in Jesus Christ. There is no other substance on earth that can compare or replace what it can do for us. Like Jesus, there is nothing to which can compare or replace Him.
This evening, the pitter patter of raindrops fall around me, and once more I am made whole.
Come what may, even tonight should the tempest unfold upon us, His mercy shall give us comfort; even in our darkest hour.
Thanks be to God.