EDITOR’S NOTE: Columnist Thom Rainer first posted this column on his blog May 4.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Please forgive me for the personal nature of this column. I prefer to write about the state of churches in America and trends that impact those churches. But my heart is full right now, so please allow me the opportunity to share some thoughts.
On Saturday (May 1) Nellie Jo and I left for a week vacation at the beach. As we pulled out of our driveway, we laughed at the pouring rain and celebrated that we would soon see sunshine and clear skies. But as we approached the Florida line, our neighbor called.
She told us that the Nashville area was receiving rainfall of record amounts. The Harpeth River was flowing hard in what was our backyard. The water was in our garage and climbing the steps to the main level at the house. One dear friend who had come to check on our house told me soberly, “Thom, the water is rising in the garage rapidly and should be in the entire house shortly.”
Nellie Jo and I turned the car around at the Florida line and headed back to Nashville.
My wife and I began to deal with the reality that our life was changing. The entire house would be devastated. We had no flood insurance and thus no coverage. The only thing we would have left would be a mortgage.
In some ways, I dealt with this reality well. I am so blessed. I have so much for which to be thankful. Great friends. The most wonderful family imaginable. A great job at the greatest company in the world. So what if I lost most of my material possessions? I was already blessed beyond measure and what I deserve. We would be OK.
On Monday morning (May 3), as we waited to see if we could get to our home to attempt to salvage what we could, another wonderful friend called. “Thom,” he began. “I am looking in your house right now. It looks like the water did not reach the main level. It’s a big mess on the garage level and in the back yard, but most of the house looks OK.”
I was stunned.
We returned to the house within an hour. He was right. The main level was OK. The house would be spared. We have much work to do, and many repairs to get done, but we have our home. It may be a mess now, but the house is not destroyed.
Nellie Jo and I looked at how close the river water line was to entering our home. It was literally only a few inches away. And then we began to hear seemingly miraculous stories of how the river receded even before the rain stopped.
I am now looking at the television. I am seeing the stunning shots of the ongoing devastation of Nashville. I am seeing hundreds, if not thousands, of homes and businesses completely under water. I am hearing of numbers of deaths in the area.
And now I have new emotions.
Why were we spared the massive devastation when others were not? Why were our losses in the tens of thousands when others lost everything?
I never asked, “Why me Lord?” when I thought we had lost all of our material possessions. I knew I had already been blessed so far beyond anything I deserved. But I was having trouble reconciling why we were spared the most devastation when others were not. I do find myself asking, “Why not me Lord?”
I have a theological understanding of grace, that undeserved and unmerited favor given to us by our Lord. But today I am having trouble grasping why again I have been blessed. I know I don’t deserve it. I know I’ve done nothing to merit it.
May God be with the Nashville victims of the Great Flood of 2010. May they know His love, His comfort, His protection, and His provision. And in the midst of all the trials, may they experience His grace.
May they know, like I have been taught yet again, that His grace is truly an amazing thing.
Thom Rainer is president of LifeWay Christian Resources. This column first appeared at ThomRainer.com. Donate to Tennessee flood disaster relief at www.TnBaptist.org, or by sending a check payable to the Tennessee Baptist Convention, P.O. Box 728, Brentwood, TN 37024. Be sure to include the designation “TN Floods 2010” on the check. Learn ways you can help in the Nashville area at www.nashvillebaptistassociation.org. Learn ways you can help in the Clarksville area at www.cumberlandba.org (the Cumberland Baptist Association will be holding disaster relieve training May 9, 11 and 12. More information at www.cumberlandba.org). The latter two websites also have flood relief request forms for those whose homes have been flooded.