As I watched the water rise, I wondered if God would give me the answer to my question.
Faith in the Flood
by Katie Markins
Recently, I found myself enjoying a peaceful spring morning. While I leisurely did a few chores around my home, I also enjoyed the company of the Lord. I told Him all I was thankful for. He had blessed me with a godly husband who leads our family to follow Christ every day. We have two sons whose hearts are being shaped by God to love Him deeply.
We had been privileged to build a beautiful home in a neighborhood where dear friends surround us. Life was good. It was easy to offer praise that morning to the One who had provided the blessings. But in the midst of the praising, I had a sobering thought. Would I be so eager to offer praise without the blessings? How would I respond to God in suffering? The question lingered.
The flood arrived on May 2, after a torrential downpour that pelted Middle Tennessee with 16 inches of rain in 48 hours. My husband was out of town on a business trip, so my boys and I spent the day helping neighbors whose homes were closer to the river move their belongings from their basements to higher ground. Then at mid-afternoon, we received word that the dams upriver had to be opened to relieve increasing pressure. We knew the water was going to come quite high...and fast.
I had packed a small bag earlier in the day just in case. I told my boys to move their things upstairs, and I flew through the house moving all the memorabilia to the second floor. As I worked, the lyrics to a song kept running through my mind. “There’s a raging sea right in front of me; once it pulled me in and brought me to my knees. So let the waters rise if you want them to. I will follow You.”
We packed our bags and prepared to move to safety, only to discover we were trapped! The only road in and out of our subdivision is considerably lower than ours, and it had already been submerged by several feet of water. We had no way out.
Photo: Water recedes slowly from the Markins' home.
Thankfully, a man who lived upriver was out in his boat looking for stranded people. He found an entire street in need of rescue. One by one, families boarded the small boat, and he carried them to safety while the rest of us anxiously watched for his return. During the 20 minutes I waited, our road disappeared beneath three feet of water. It was an eerie feeling to watch the water creep higher and higher. When I finally looked back at my house from the safety of the small bass boat, I saw the water cross the threshold into my home.
When my boys and I stepped off the boat, we were greeted by a concerned family from our church. They offered us a ride to wherever we needed to go. I still haven’t asked them what brought them to that very location, although I know the answer and Who sent them. They delivered us safely to my parents’ home, where we were reunited with my husband Matt. He had arrived home from his trip and was anxiously awaiting our rescue. We just held each other and cried.
A Dark Cloud Gathers
That night seemed terribly long. I lay in a bed that was not my own and listened to the breathing of my children. My mind flooded with questions and emotions. Had the water stopped rising? How high was it in my house? Did it reach the second floor? I couldn’t shake the frightening images from the day. What could I have done differently? I was thankful for the very real presence of the Spirit that night as He drew close.
The next morning, the grief began. I stood shaking as I watched the news, knowing that the river was still rising and would continue for another day. The good life I had known just hours earlier had been swept away with the flood, and I wondered if it would ever be the same again.
I didn’t know how to process the loss, so I did the only thing I knew to do. I uttered quietly in tones and groans that only the Father Himself could discern, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” My heart did not feel like rejoicing, but I knew that was what He wanted from me, even in the flood.
We returned home by boat three days after the flood to salvage what we could. The waters had receded from the house, allowing us to begin the long recovery process. As we tore away the ruined sheetrock, we were comforted to find the Scriptures we had written all over the studs and framing of the house, reminding us on Whom our home had been built. [Photo: Katie points to the water line on the fireplace mantel.
At that moment, more than ever, we felt the need to remain on that same foundation. Once again, we wrote passages of Scripture and song lyrics that had carried us through the difficult days following the flood. We clung to passages such as, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21), and, “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever” (1 Peter 1:24, 25a).
One verse in particular seemed to carry me through, and I am having these words penned and framed to be a continual reminder to us and to our children. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).
Strength in Suffering
Life was no longer easy. We lost everything on the first floor. We are still displaced from the community we love, living in a home that is not our own. We are unsure of when we will be able to return. We have had to depend on the kindness and generosity of the Body of Christ—including total strangers—just to survive.
Yet in the midst of our struggle, the question came back time and time again. “How will you respond in suffering?” Truthfully, I am still unable to answer that question. I have yet to suffer. Every need has been met. Our home is being rebuilt. We have clothes, food, shelter, fellowship, and laughter with family and friends to keep us going.
Sure, we have experienced great fatigue and stress. But suffering? Not at all! My God still sits on His throne, and in His great mercy, He reached down and demonstrated His love and mercy through the storm. I am at peace, knowing He is at the helm.
“When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with you above the storm. Father, you are King over the flood, and I will be still and know you are God.”
About the Writer: Katie and Matt Markins live in Nashville, TN, and attend Donelson FWB Church. They have two sons, Warren and Hudson.