For this is like the waters of Noah to Me… Isaiah 54:9 (NKJV)
The images swim through my head, like flood waters swirling around a plugged drain — Noah’s arc, cute animals, faithful Noah, rainbows…then muddy waters, soggy furniture, ruined books and memories…then stain glass windows, angelic babies in white gowns, and the blessings of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As these pictures splash against the insides of my head, I try to form connections and make sense of them all.
In early September, my Sunday school preschoolers colored cute clothespin animals to remind them of Noah’s arc. Last year we made rainbow crafts, and the year before we constructed an arc around the table with brown paper grocery bags. Somehow, Noah is always a fun story, and we don’t think about what washed away in the water.
Two days after our Noah’s arc lesson, I was driving home and saw a beautiful double rainbow, from one end to the other. In Montana, Big Sky Country, we often see the whole rainbow. I was reminded of God’s promise to never flood the world again, and His many other Bible promises — like Jesus is coming back!
Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. Isaiah 43:1-2(NKJV)
But four days after our Noah’s arc lesson, a real flood came to my parent’s home in Ames, Iowa — the same home they’ve lived in over half a century. Their finished basement with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and cupboards, packed with favorite novels, puzzles, and family memorabilia, was deluged in hurricane fashion. In a matter of minutes, water burst through the windows, filling the basement to the ceiling!
My parents do not live near an ocean, nor near a river, nor on a flood plain. In the 51 years they’ve lived in their house, only a few inches of rain have ever flooded, and that was if the sump pump quit working. The sump pump didn’t have a chance this time.
What caused such a terrible flood? It was an incredible disaster that should never have happened. The main factor was the new school up the block. A year ago Fellows School was re-built in the playing field behind the old elementary school my siblings and I attended. Over the summer, the old school and parking lot were torn down. By September they had the new parking lot poured, perhaps even graded the new play areas, but nothing had been seeded yet. So, with no greenery to slow run-off, the sewer drain full of silt and debris from the construction, and five inches of rain over the night of September 22nd into the 23rd, the tragedy occurred.
My siblings worked heroicly to clean up the disaster, rescuing anything that could be salvaged, hauling, power washing, scrubbing, sanitizing, painting, rebuilding… It is starting to look like a basement again, minus the books and photos that were so dear to my parents. Yet out of this disaster came a miracle.
The day of the flood, my dad who has had cancer for a few years now, was not well enough to have his chemo treatment. His white blood cell count was too low. In the summer when I visited, he had trouble maneuvering from the living room to the kitchen with his walker. Today he is climbing down to the basement and up to his office on the second floor a dozen times each day, taking measurements, ordering a new door, arranging his tools, often forgetting his cane or walker. He is a new man with a project.
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4 (NKJV)
On our way to visit my parents and see how we could help, we were blessed to attend the baptism of our first grandchild in Waterford, Wisconsin. Her baptism was held at the most beautiful Catholic church I have ever seen. Stain glass windows of the saints surround the sanctuary bathed in daylight. A lovely tiled baptismal font that could compete with any city square fountain, marks the entrance to the worship area. It was there that the priest baptized our precious Kennedy Grace in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, claiming her as God’s child.
Whether we are baptized as babies or believers, we all must make the personal choice for salvation in Jesus Christ. It is in choosing Jesus that we are given new life. We are washed clean from our sins and filled with the Holy Spirit. We are new creations. As baptism symbolizes death, the coming out of the water symbolizes rising again to eternal life. I’m reminded of the Prayer of St. Francis which concludes, “It is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”
Our granddaughter’s baptism is the beginning of her new life in Christ Jesus. My parents’ flood gave new life and health to my dad. And Noah’s flood brought a second chance and rebirth to our fallen world. Above all, out of the waters rises our victorious Savior, Jesus Christ.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
-Prayer of St. Francis
Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.