Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Flash Flood

Photograph: Elias Butler
During the summer of my 21st birthday, I traveled around the western United States with my parents and younger siblings.  We went to a youth camp in Colorado, followed the Million Dollar Highway through the Rocky Mountains, and explored the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings.  We found Grand Canyon to be breathtaking.  Late on a Friday afternoon we pulled our trailer into a campground at Red Canyon.  Mom was especially enchanted with the red dirt and the surrounding rocks from which it had come.

It was bright and clear as we drove up the mountain the next morning to visit Bryce Canyon, just 15 minutes away.  We noticed the ditches alongside the road and asked what they were.  "There must be a river that runs through here," Dad said, "but it's dry now."

We spent the morning at Bryce Canyon, exploring and bouncing our echoes off the rocks, and headed to the parking lot.  Raindrops were just starting to fall as we pulled out of the park, and as we got closer to the campsite we discovered a rushing river in the dry "ditches" we'd seen only hours ago!  By the time we got back to the campground, the river was nearly overflowing its banks!

There was red mud all around the tires of our trailer, and splattered on the side which was facing the rocks. We put together a quick lunch while Dad found the ranger and asked what we should do.  Leave, he said, "but don't take the trailer.  The bridge is weak and the trailer would put too much strain on it.  Come back about 5:00, after we've been able to shore up the bridge.  Now hurry so you can get out!"

Mom grabbed a small jar and, as we were ready to pull out of the campground, dashed to the river that was now a torrent and filled her jar.  She still has her jar of Utah flood water.

We spent the afternoon not knowing if we would be able to get our trailer out, if we'd be able to get back to it at all, if we'd be caught up in the flash flood and die.

When 5:00 came, we were back in the campground, hooking up our trailer.  The bridge had washed out and we were directed to a very precarious culvert to cross.  Shortly after we passed over it, it, too, collapsed.

We were reminiscing about this the other day, and Mom said, "That was scary."  But I don't remember that my parents showed their fear.  And I don't remember that I felt much fear.  We prayed for protection, of course, and we sang a lot that day, hymns in four-part harmony.  And God blessed me with a quiet heart. 

I'm reminded of the scripture in Isaiah 43 which says, "But now, this is what the Lord says -- He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel.  'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.'"

Our peace is not dependent upon or circumstances.  It is dependent upon the Lord who created us, who redeemed us, who knows us intimately, and who walks through life with us.  Fear not.

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