Trending on all social media, in the spotlight in the mainstream media, and in the backyards, basements, and homes of hundreds of thousands of people in Houston, Texas are the rising waters of Hurricane Harvey. This hurricane, described by many an expert as unprecedented, is devastating Harris County, in which over 4 million American citizens live. In the midst of the storm, however, something beautiful has happened, and it is worth mentioning.
Neighbors Loving Neighbors
Death looks the same no matter what color your skin is. When waters rise and we’re gulped up by the ocean, people won’t linger on the shade of your black, white, or yellow. In Houston, still, and in Florida and the Caribbean, people of all races are saving people of all races. They are saving them.
They don’t ask them their political preference before saving them. They don’t ask them their ancestry before saving them. They don’t even ask for money before saving them. Insurance coverage doesn’t matter in these flood waters. Prestigious neighborhoods don’t matter. When emergency services and the volunteers get a call that a person or family is in imminent danger, they do not care where they are or who they are, they respond.
That’s what you do when waters rise.
Humanity Hides in Our Pocket
Seeing the images of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation is heartbreaking, and it’s nowhere near over. Once the waters recede back to the boundaries of the ocean, the damage will still be there. There will be homes that aren’t recoverable. There will be pets and family members who are lost. There will be families that are left with nothing, or very near nothing.
I hesitate to make a big proclamation about how we gained something through this, because too many lost, but I can’t miss the opportunity to witness a truly beautiful thing when I walk past it.
We latch onto celebrities constantly–remarking on their children, their clothes, their homes, their lavish lifestyle. It’s when a celebrity does something beautiful, though, that the world sits up and takes note. No matter what they wear or look like, when they show their humanity, they’re people. Just people. Sometimes people who need saving.
Americans have been stuffing our humanity into our pockets for months and years. We wear thick overcoats to keep out the opinions of others, coats that label us as this or that, and itchy fabric that repels others. We slip our humanity into our pocket for safekeeping, and sometimes forget to bring it out. Sometimes it’s forced out when we’re in danger of losing it–our life, our basic needs. Sometimes it’s forced out when you see other humans in need of saving.
A Shimmering Pebble
This horrific natural disaster was just that, and all of the humans involved have slipped back into their natural clothes–our human skin. The ocean presses in on some of our own, threatening them, drowning them, and ruining their lives to a large degree, and it’s us against the water.
The Cajun Navy driving on an empty highway toward a disaster, the emergency task forces pooling from surrounding states, the neighbors with boats, the storefronts, mosques, and churches with open doors–it’s the shimmering pebble in a pool of dark water. This is the beautiful America that we know.
This weekend America prepares for another storm, this time in Florida, where Hurricane Irma is hours from landfall and has already devastated the Caribbean. All over the internet people who have rarely said a word about Jesus are talking about End Times. People who have made no attempt to rush to their neighbor’s aid in the past, are jumping on the internet and donating to the Red Cross. The very same frailty that makes us human also makes us vulnerable. It makes us mortal, and it sets our mind on higher things, depending on people we don’t know, and a God we cannot see.
This is the time when Christians are once again under a microscope. When the world will look at our churches and try to find the humanness there. It’s okay to let it show. It’s okay to let the world see that we are people, that storms tear us down, and that our God builds us back up again–and maybe He uses other people to help do that. Your storm may be a drought followed by a wildfire. It may be the loss of a loved one, or a sudden illness. Your house may not be in the midst of a hurricane, but God can be the Cornerstone of your home, and the world can watch it stand.
Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. (Matthew 7: 24-27)