Many months passed before anything resembling normalcy returned. Although this event took place decades ago, I have vivid memories of catfish swimming in my garage while the water was receding only to be exchanged for snakes once the ground reappeared. Next came the piles of ruined carpeting, furniture, clothing, books, stamp collections, broken heirlooms, wedding pictures, family pictures, and a host of other things long forgotten.
An event such as this leaves you in a static frame of mind. Should we install carpeting again? What if another tropical storm hovers over Miami? Should we take the dining room table off bricks or leave it as is just in case? All questions, no answers, no progress.
The week before Christmas we finally made a decision to purchase new carpet. I think we were just worn down by the daily torture of stepping on carpet tacks, the remaining fossils after the flood. How nice it was to walk on something soft after months of concrete and know the process of rebuilding our lives had begun.
As I look back, there is one day that I will never forget. Some friends from our church came over to help us tear out the carpeting that had been ruined by the flood. This probably took place two or three weeks after the tropical storm. We would tear up a section at a time, roll it, and drag it outside. What was memorable about this day was the laughter. Nancy and I laughed. In fact, we laughed a lot. As we worked together with our friends, we experienced a joy that was beyond human explanation in light of our circumstances. We had just lost most of our earthly possessions. Additionally, enough time has passed for this melancholy reality to sink in. Yet we laughed. We enjoyed the fellowship of Christians friends. We knew that God was for us, not against us. We rejoiced in the peace that passes all understanding. Life was hard, but God was good.
Jesus said, “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:25-26
It wasn’t long after this that Nancy and I noticed a change in our thinking regarding possessions. They simply didn’t hold the value for us that they once did. We realized how easily they can fly away, or in our case, sink into the abyss. We grew in our understanding of Paul’s words to Timothy, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8
We adopted a much simpler lifestyle than we would have pre-flood, one that has freed time and resources for kingdom purposes rather than our own comfort and security.
That’s not to say that we haven’t had internal battles to fight. There will always be new shiny toys out there that grab our attention and attempt to capture our hearts. Some battles we’ve won and some we’ve lost. But by God’s grace and sustaining power, the direction of our lives has stayed on course. I’m not sure I would be saying that if God has not brought adversity into our lives for the purpose of our sanctification. Nancy and I can truthfully say that we thank God for the calamitous flood experience. All these years later we still see God using it for His good purposes as He continues to teach us to hold the things of this world lightly and with open hands.