We had just finished leading worship at Convención in McAllen and we loaded up the van to make a twenty mile drive home in a terrible storm that had just knocked out the power. The Rio Grande Valley floods quickly in storms like this, but we had made it home in a bad storm a year ago, and we were confident we could make it again. As we drove 35 mph on the expressway, cars had stopped on the high parts of the freeway to stay out of possible flooding. Our usual exits looked to be covered with water, so we took one we had heard was clear. It wasn't.
The worst parts of the night were that my wife and daughters were in a different vehicle, my phone was dying, and I was running out of gas. As I hugged the side of the curb on the frontage road to stay as high as possible, I had a decision to make: get back on the expressway or try our chances of making it through the rising water. I chose the expressway.
So we drove looking for the next clearest exit. We drove more. We drove more. It was pitch black except for the occasional brake lights of stranded cars littered on the side of the freeway and frontage road. Those on the frontage road were covered with water. Later we learned that we were driving in the same direction of the storm keeping the worst parts right above us! We got word that San Benito was clear so we kept driving in the heavy rain and finally found an exit that was passible. We took refuge under the overhang of a Circle K gas station.
I can't explain how calming it was, for just a little while, to not have the sound of the rain pounding on the roof. I sat in the car with my wife and daughters and we called friends who had also been on the road to check their statuses and plan our next move. We eventually made it to a hotel in Harlingen where my family made it in dry. After parking the cars, I practically had to swim back to the hotel where my wife was able to dry my clothes in the machine there.
We faired better than many of our friends in this storm. Our pastor, Dr. Steven Parker, was swept off the road and had to be rescued by the Elsa fire department. Izzy and Eva Alfaro, who had been running visual production at convention didn't make it home until 4 am. Rachel and Gavin had to park their car a block from their house and walk through flood waters to make it home. A shelter was opened at our church, FBC Weslaco, to take in fifty people rescued from the storm.
In all that time, I prayed that we would be safe. I prayed the rain would stop. I prayed the floods would subside. I prayed our cars wouldn't be damaged. I prayed our friends would be safe. But, I never asked God for more rain. I wasn't glad that we had stayed in the teeth of the storm by continuing our drive east.
A few days later, I happened on the new David Crowder song, "Let it Rain." The modern day Psalmist reminds us that problems bring us closer to God, so if it is God's will, let it rain!
"So let it rain, let it pour
Lord, I need You more and more Let it rain, rain down on me Every day, whatever You want Not my will but Yours, Lord "
That's bold! We usually ask God to lessen the storms we pass through. We seek refuge - even just a few moments from the rains pouring down around us. God, however, might just be using the rains to draw us, and others to him. The way we face the difficulties of life has the power to be a great witness to those around us. In the coming weeks, our church, alongside Texas Baptist Men and Christian Aid Ministries, will be able to share the love of Jesus with others by mudding out houses and getting them ready to be restored.
I don't know what storms you may be facing, but as Crowder says, "The same God who brought the sunshine, is the same God who brings the rain." So may we seek the will of the One who brings the sun and the rain. It is good to be reminded that our trust through storms of this life is not found in vehicles, hotels, Circle K's or any man-made thing: Our trust is in the God who commands the storms. It is good to find refuge in the One who created heaven and earth. May we boldly pray for rain that draws us closer to Him and draws other to Him as well.
If you would like to support the flood relief effort in the Mid-Valley, you may find out more information on how to GIVE HERE.