A few nights ago we had a torrential downpour here at the cabin. The phone screamed flood warnings nearly every hour all night long, and the forest became a river. Water poured from the sky and rushed along the forest floor, pushing over trees, and piling up debris that raced along in front of the torrent. Broken limbs, fallen leaves, and anything else that had been lying around was swept up as the water pushed everything along the path of least resistance.

A few days later, after the water had subsided, and the mud had dried into soft soil again, we took a long walk through the woods to see what damage might have occurred. Uprooted trees that had once towered over the landscape were pushed aside, leaning heavily against their neighbors for support. Piles of debris were in strange places where the water had pushed it into corners against some immovable object, and then left it there to rot. The grass was swept in one direction, as though a giant comb had been raked over it, giving away the direction the water had gone in its mad rush across the forest floor. The water seemed to have carried away anything that wasn’t holding on tight, deeply rooted in the soil, and even then, nothing survived untouched. The flood had left its mark.

I sit on the back porch, staring into the forest, and listen to the gentle gurgle of the stream below. Sunlight dances through the trees as the breeze moves their branches far above beneath a cloudless sky of brilliant blue. A bird sings in the distance. It is hard to look at this precious, restful scene, and think of the damage that was done just days before in this same place. How can it go so quickly from torrent to babbling brook? Those plants that held on through the storm are now blooming, rising up a little taller with each passing hour of sunshine as their roots drink in the water left behind after the storm. And it makes me wonder…

How have you weathered the storm?

Have you been swept away, caught up and ripped from your place to be carried along in a direction you didn’t want to go? Are you dashed against the rocks, and left to fend for yourself once the flood waters have subsided? Do you feel beaten, broken, and abandoned, wondering why others around you seem undamaged? Or, have you dug in, held fast to something solid that won’t let you go when the waters rage against you, and threaten to destroy? When the flood dissipates, and the storm is gone, are you a little bent, but not broken? Rising tall as the sun hits your face again, and certain you’ll remain right where you’re planted?

I’ve spent the last week loving friends who are in the midst of their storm. When it rains, it pours has been the theme of the week, it seems. I watch them fighting hard against the waves, digging in their heels against the rising floodwaters their life has become, and I am in awe. Determined, and inspired, I stand behind them, my shoulder leaning into the task as we fight to hold the water back. They won’t be swept away, they are rooted in solid ground. Their faith in God is what holds them there, certain he will rescue them even when they can’t see how. The thunder roars overhead and the wind screams in their faces, all while the water rises, but they won’t let go. Their hope is in something bigger, something that has never let them go, and so they hold on.

As I sit here listening to the stream sing its sweet song as it moves beneath the trees, I am overwhelmed with hope. Yesterday the storm raged, but today the water is back in its banks. Instead of destruction, today there is peace, and it is carried along beneath a bright blue sky. Today there is hope for those who held their ground, and the flowers bloom right where they stand beside the quiet stream as it wanders through the wood.

What are you holding onto? Will you bloom today, or be washed away?

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