I’m not going to sugar coat anything in this post. What you are seeing on the news is not sensationalized. Houston is in desperate need of your prayers.
You’ve seen the hurricane Harvey coverage. You know what’s going on. Many of you have reached out and to this minute (because we are not out of the woods yet), I lift my hands in thankful praise that we still have power. Because if I didn’t know what was going on, or if I was unable to communicate with loved ones and dear friends, I might crack.
In fact, I sort of did yesterday.
A new hurricane term I quickly memorized is “the band.” These are the tail-like lines of skinny weather occurrences that are constantly slamming into Houston and other surrounding areas like Missouri City and Katy and Beaumont. We’ve come to learn that the yellow and red ones are particularly nasty.
The problem is that the bands will not go away. The eye of Harvey sits over our friends in Victoria, Rockwell, and Corpus Christi (who received the brunt of the actual hurricane) and its bands continue to dump rain on Houston and it’s surrounding cities.
This happens at least every hour.
It lasts for at least thirty minutes.
Tornadoes often team-up with the bands.
At first we braced in preparation for the bands. By the end of last night, when this had been going on for two entire days without relief, I slowly began to shutter at the sight of the bands sweeping across my city, my region, and the entire lower half of my state. The ridiculous thoughts of, “I will never buy this band’s t-shirt,” rapidly morph into “Please, Jesus. Make it stop.”
We are thankful for each first responder, police officer, fire fighter, member of the coast guard, military unit, and our local news teams for being on the front lines. We stay glued to our television sets and phones, praying for that elderly man, that very small baby, that pregnant lady, that special needs child. We praise the Lord that these individuals have been rescued.
Then we grieve with them as reality sets in. They have just exited one dire situation for another. There’s nowhere to go. Not only is their house under water, but a Wal-Mart sack holds the entirety of their belongings. And now they are stuck on top of a bridge waiting for a rescue.
Hundreds of thousands of other people are doing the exact same thing.
This is when your nerves become frazzled. Reports from friends start pouring in. People have taken to Facebook to try and help steer individuals with boats to their loved ones.
That’s right. Boats.
Every single major road and feeder is officially under water. Every. Single. One. That is not an exaggeration. Because the band has been playing constantly for 48-hours. Relief can’t come. It can’t get down the street.
At this point, that quote from Mr. Rogers floods your memory:
You cling to that side of hope because your heart can’t take any more devastation. People who have not been hit (as hard) come out in droves.
Where did they come from? They are neighbors down the street. People drive in from San Antonio. Their trucks are pulling boats. A convoy of fishermen from Louisiana make their way across their state into ours. Even though they are dealing with their own bands, they come. They drive right into the line of fire. Perfect strangers become life savers. Back and forth. Into the neighborhood and out. Countless times. More people. More pets. More relief. More devastation.
We are a city that floods. We’ve weathered storms before. We have practices in place when bayous fill and roads overflow. There are specific emergency locations that are prepared for droves of people when they are in need. This isn’t our first rodeo.
Unfortunately, displaced people physically can’t get to shelters because I-10 is literally under water. So is downtown. And neighborhoods in Meyerland and parts of Friendswood. The entire city is fighting the flood.
So we sit and watch the helpers. They break into an elementary school and set up shop. There’s nothing to eat. There may not be power or running water, but people are already dropping off blankets, diapers, and cans of gasoline for the boats. They share rations. They share umbrellas. They give the raincoat off their own back to shield another.
Watch the helpers. Watch as they work in the constant downpour of rain.
Soon the guilt sets in. We learn people in need are without power. Texts flurry back and forth. Able bodies begging the Lord to restore that family’s power and take their own. Strong wills ask the Lord to flood their own home so another can be spared. Friends help set-up makeshift shelters in neighborhoods because they are in the neighborhoods hit the worst.
That’s a different level of “helper.”
Soon the news and social media becomes too much. And jokes about, “What was Taylor Swift thinking?” aren’t so funny anymore. You have to shut something down. You have to walk away. You have to accept the fact that you are landlocked and there is quite literally nothing you can do as the texts and messages continue to blow up your phone.
The water is at the driveway.
The water is at the front door.
We are moving everything onto kitchen cabinets.
We are sweeping out water.
Pray the rain stops.
It’s coming to fast.
We are evacuating.
To one of those makeshift shelters.
Pray for us.
So you do. You hit your knees to the ground and cry out to the Lord to please…make…the…rain…stop.
When it doesn’t, bitterness sets in because you are a good person who doesn’t do anything wrong and all you’ve asked is for the Lord to simply stop the rain. HE MADE THE RAIN FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE. JUST STOP THE RAIN.
When it doesn’t, fear sets in.
My roommate Lara calmed me down by encouraging me to look at the facts: We have shelter, we have power, and a our water is not near our front door yet. We’ve prepared for the worst. We will be fine.
It helps. Because we will be fine. We will.
My friend Stephanie, who is currently working day four in a row at the children’s hospital, checks in. Even though she is taking care of sick babies and worried parents, I’m selfish and text her a message. I admit that I feel helpless.
She’s bold. She’s my “tell-it-like-it-is” friend. Stephanie writes three words back:
You should write.
Everything inside of me tells me to write, but I ignore the feeling and Stephanie’s suggestion in lieu of handwringing anxiety.
When heart-wrenching texts come in from a friend who is in desperate need for the rains to stop, thanks to the reservoir release, I straight up hit the panic button and phone a friend at 12:45 last night.
In a very raw, completely selfish moment, I forgot about everyone else suffering and told Jill I was bad. She launched into prayer.
And she spoke truth.
It’s very, very hard to see and recognize a good and loving Father when you are surrounded by heartbreak. It’s very hard to lean into His everlasting arms when all you’ve done for three days is desperately pray for the rains to stop and they don’t. It’s very annoying to be told that “this too shall pass” when you’re sitting right in the middle of it unable to help in any way. Not to mention the fact that it’s not passing.
But she spoke truth.
Jill reminded me that our God is not a God of fear. He is a God who loves us deeply and for whatever reason, we and the rest of our city and region are experiencing something we never want to experience again. The fear and anxiety do not come from Him.
We are being attacked. And not just with flood levels. We are being attacked spiritually, too.
Pulling scripture from my brain, I began reminding myself that God is a victorious warrior (Zephaniah 3:17). He is a gracious and loving God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness (Jonah 4:2).
He is sovereign. And He is good. And He made sure there were 365 verses in the Bible that teach us to guard against fear and anxiety.
One verse for every day. That tells me that fear and anxiety will creep up often and we need multiple verses to combat the attack.
“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and self-control.”- 2 Timothy 1:7
He created the heavens and the earth. He created me too. I am my Beloved’s and He is mine.
So I here I sit and write as dawn breaks. I’m not helping people in an out of boats in the pouring rain. I’m not comforting women at a shelter. I’m not taking 9-1-1- calls or making sure children are safe in their beds at the hospital. I’m writing.
I’m writing to tell you that it’s bad out there and hundreds of thousands of lives are going to be changed. I’m writing to tell you that Texas needs your help. I’m writing to ask you to pray. Pray for the rains to stop. Pray for the waters to lower enough for provisions to get in. Pray for those still in dire situations. Pray for more boats.
And if you’re not one who prays, be a good neighbor and help any way you can. If you’re close to one of the hit areas, bring supplies. Give of your time. Show up and jump in. Or if you’re far away, I believe the easiest way to help is by donating to the Red Cross.
At the very least, when you’re watching Bachelor in Paradise tonight, instead of taking a drink whenever the word “vibe” is used, or when someone asks another, “I was just wondering where you head is at,” do me a favor and pray for us instead.
That’s not weird. I’m trying to get my sense of humor back. Just go with it…
A new band has just hit. The sound of rain is an unwelcome sound. So I’m going to take a breath, lift my hands to the sky, and voice in the air while I boldly proclaim:
“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease. For his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23
It’s time to say “good day,” Harvey.