Monday, May 3, 2010

Oh, I Love a Rainy Night...

(photo from
Thank you Eddie Rabbit, but while I may love a rainy night, I'm not so much into the stormy nights. This weekend was the roughest we've had weather-wise in a while. Talking to some of my farmers, one said he poured 5.25 inches of rain out of his gauge, and down the road, another poured out 6.5 inches. That's a lot of water in 48 hours.

I live on a ridge, so no fear of flooding up here, but less than 1/2 mile to my west folks weren't so lucky. West Hickman is low, real low. It is protected from the river by a levee, but still, whatever water falls in West Hickman has to go somewhere, and that's what the pumps are for. The city has a pump system that works fairly well, unless the pumps get hit by lightning, which they did Saturday night.

As the rain fell, and the waters rose in West Hickman, there was a knock on my door at 3:00 in the morning. It was the chief of police letting me know they were evacuating folks and asking me to activate our emergency shelter here at the church. I admit, I wasn't real excited about donning my rain jacket and flip flops, and heading out into the pouring rain at 3:00 in the morning. But, it needed to be done.

Long story short, many of the folks asked to evacuate stayed at home to ride it out, save one. I had never met her before, but at 3:15 Sunday morning, she was needing a place to sleep. We got the cots and blankets set up. I had grabbed some of the ready to eat meals out of the basement, put on a pot of coffee, and got her settled in. I get up at 5:00 every morning anyhow, so I just stayed up.

Now, a little about myself, I don't function well when I am awakened out of a dead sleep. I also have a slight tendency to wake up grumpy. But for some reason, Sunday morning, I didn't mind. I didn't wake up grumpy, I didn't mind getting soaked at 2:15 when I first unlocked the building, and then again at 3:15 when we officially activated the shelter. It really didn't bother me, and honestly, I don't know why. 10 years ago it would would have bothered me greatly.

Maybe I'm finally beginning to mature a little, I don't know. Maybe I've heard the term "servant leader" tossed around so much it's finally beginning to sink in. Or maybe, I heard Christ speak this time. Here's what he says: "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of Man didn't come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."(Matthew 20)

I sat up the rest of the night keeping watch over her. Had she not been 73 and alone, I don't know that I wouldn't have gone home and gone back to bed, but I couldn't leave her up there by herself. 5:30 came and I fixed her some breakfast and we talked until I felt it was safe to take her home.

Now, why did I bring this up? Not for any accolades or pats on the back, but as one example of what we can do to put feet on our words. This little lady went on and on about how that was the first time she had spent the night with a preacher (I actually hope that doesn't get around town, could start some stuff), but she had a need, we had a way of meeting that need, so we did.

St. Francis of Assissi said, "Preach the gospel at all times, when necessary, use words." I had the opportunity this weekend to put the gospel in action, and I can't describe the feelings that I got from it.

So, sing on Eddie Rabbit. When the rains come and the wind blows, we'll be ready...with cots, blankets, hot coffee, a roof that doesn't leak, and feet on the gospel. Not so we can become great, but because we follow Christ, and Christ came to serve.


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