I, like most of us, am watching all the news and updates about the storm’s effects in NYC. Having just been there not even a whole month ago and being reminded of the entire city’s reliance on public transportation, I can’t even begin to get my mind around how devastating it is to lose the subway and train systems. Sure there are buses, but you’d have to leave like 2 hours earlier to actually get any where on time right now. In fact, stop reading my blog and get on a bus, any bus, just so you’re not late for whatever it is you are supposed to be doing this week.
Seeing the photos of subway stations flooded with water, my thoughts turn to those who feel so much like they are caught in a flood, drowning under the weight of grief, of fear, of shame and guilt, of worry or regret. It feels like flood gates were opened and it is all you can do to hold your breath or tread long enough to keep your head up. Your strength is waning fast and you see every wave up ahead. It’s so much easier to just sink.
I’ve been there. In degrees, I am still there from time to time. Carrying the weight of all the regrets of the past, choices I made or failed to make, I feel my legs give way, sometimes literally, and I sink into a heap on the floor in terror or shame. If only I had not done that, or if only I had turned away, if only I had made that phone call or not made that phone call, all the steps, the very many steps taken, brought me to that choice and to that place and now to this place in a heap on the floor sobbing, drowning, unable to move.
I think about the very many days ahead. The countless crews of men and women coming to the city from all over, working tirelessly day and night around the clock to rebuild, restore, resurrect. It starts with one worker, driving in, hooking up things, assessing damages, weighing options, consulting the thinkers and the experts, barking out orders… time it takes time. Lots and lots and lots and lots of time.
And it starts with one worker – he’s probably already there. Maybe he thought it was pointless at first. You take one look at that flood and you think, Good God. This is going to take forever. Maybe it will never be the same. Maybe it’s a sign. Sure wish I had taken that option to retire last year.
And the phrase Rome wasn’t built in a day – you know someone will use it if they haven’t already. We have our work cut out for us. Another phrase someone will use and might get smacked for it. But it’s true, it’s all true. And they’ll put their shoulders to the wheel and they’ll pump the subways and the Discovery Channel or the History Channel will record the whole thing and we’ll see the 10th anniversary special of the day Sandy Sashayed into the City. (Copyright pending)
But in all seriousness, we’ll freak out for awhile first. And just like when we are confronted with the flood of our dark hearts, the truth about who we really are when no one is looking, the depth of our depravity and violently defiant tendencies, we are undone and paralyzed, stopped in our tracks, crippled beyond capacity. And we break down. We have to. We have to have been in that place. We have to be drowning and beyond restoration. We must be there in that very real place where all hope is lost. Because it is only in that moment where we have lost it all, that we will ever truly find anything of any value – and that is in a word Jesus. It is there, sinking down in the pit, that we ever truly see our need of him, our very real deep need of His grace and salvation. I pray you are not there too often or too long, but you must be there some time. It is the truth.
And once you are there, once you see the water swell around you, once you have felt the tide pulling on your legs, weakening you and breaking you, I pray you see the rescue. And I pray you see the one step you must take next. Don’t get lost by all the steps to follow that one. Don’t be just as overwhelmed by the restoration and the rebuilding as you were the devastation and the destruction. Don’t give in to the lie that it can never be done. Don’t fall prey to the despair your enemy wants you to feel. Take the one step you need to take – you reach out your hand and you ask for help and from the arms of the Savior, you let him do what he must do to clean the mess you made. And it won’t happen by tomorrow. You may have a hundred thousand plans and scenarios roaming around your head. But you set those down, and you listen to what he is telling you and you do that one thing he is asking you to do. And when you never let go of his hand, you find the restorative work gets done.
I have a shelter in the storm
When all my sins accuse me
Though justice charges me with guilt
Your grace will not refuse me
O Jesus, I will hide in You
Who bore my condemnation
I find my refuge in Your wounds
For there I find salvation