Vanessa lived in a house in Parkersburg, Iowa, up until the devastating tornado ripped through that little town last month. Her house destroyed, she picked through the rubble and salvaged what she could, packing it away in boxes and storing them in a garage in another town. Vanessa then moved into a tiny one-bedroom apartment until she could figure out where she would go next. Last week the town where Vanessa had stored her salvaged belongings was flooded, and everything she owned was destroyed.
This spring has ravaged the state of Iowa. We had snow in May, wet fields, late planting. When you live in a state that survives on farming, the weather is more than just a nuisance. It threatens to destroy your way of life. And then, when things were finally drying out, when the farmers were getting their crops in and the tiniest of green miracles were pushing themselves up through the soil, that tornado hit Parkersburg. And the rain came.
I don’t live where the water has been bad. We have had a lot of rain, yes, but I don’t live near a river or in a low-lying area. Other than a damp basement and the annoyance of working with children on never-ending rainy days, the water hasn’t really affected me. Honestly, we seldom watch TV and I had no idea how bad it was just miles from our home until I started looking at the pictures online. I am thankful for the protection my family has had from the floodwaters, the tornadoes, the inundation of horror that has overcome so many places in Iowa and now Illinois.
As I have listened to the stories, read the articles, heard the voices on the radio speak, I have been stricken by the strength of my fellow Iowans. Vanessa did not once beg for help or weep hysterically. The pain was present in her voice, but so was a defiance and a determination to rebuild, to start over. It makes me proud to be an Iowan.
One of our local stations is doing a radiothon this Saturday to raise money for families who have been affected by the storms of 2008. I have no doubt that people will give generously to this cause, because those of us who haven’t had our lives ripped apart strongly desire to help those who have. But even if WHO were to raise enough money to replace every home, every carpet, every lost heirloom or destroyed vehicle, a radio fund raiser could never meet the deepest need we all have.
As the events here in Iowa have unfolded over the last month, and as I have seen circumstances in my own life that have seemed like too much to bear, it has seemed that God has been trying to get my attention, to remind me of my deep need for Him. I am as materialistic as the next person; I have way too much stuff and I am way too attached to most of it. But those things to which I cling so desperately are not what I need. Even my husband, my children, my family, can’t meet the deepest needs of my heart.
Only Christ can meet those needs.
In daily routine it is so easy to forget how desperately I need my Savior. How alone, how small and weak I am without Him. I have been calling myself a Christian now for twenty-four years. That’s 83% of my life. When I was five years old and accepted Him as my Savior, I knew I needed Him. When I was in high school and the lies I had built up around myself came crashing down around me, I knew I needed Him. When I was twenty years old, flying alone across the Pacific Ocean to share God’s love with people on the other side of the world, I knew I needed Him. When I lost my unborn baby earlier this year, I knew I needed Him.
But today– today with the laundry and the dishes calling my name– today with noses to wipe, hugs to give, stories to read, songs to sing– today with one mundane task after another filling my schedule– today I so easily forget that I need Christ just as much now as I did at those pivotal times in my life. And because I forget that, I struggle to accomplish my daily tasks. In a way, it was easier to deal with life through those difficult, life-changing events because I was constantly turning back to my Lord, asking for strength to overcome a language barrier or just to get up in the morning. The truth is, if I am going to get the laundry done today I am going to need His help. He is my deepest need.
By some strange fluke of the universe I was invited to sing in a choir at our church association’s national convention next week. The theme of the conference is “The Glory of the Cross,” and the five songs we are singing all reflect on the sacrifice of Christ and the miracle of the cross. I love singing in a choir, and last night at our rehearsal we were in a room with amazing acoustics, with a director who really knows his stuff, and the sound was incredible. Participating in a group like that, singing these incredibly powerful lyrics about the amazing work of the cross– there were moments when I had goosebumps on my arms and tears in my eyes.
Here is what it all comes down to: “Death is crushed to death; life is mine to live.” I have had those words singing through my head since we left our practice last night. Christ met my deepest need on Calvary, when he destroyed death. And this life– He has given me the opportunity to live this life with abundance. It’s mine for the taking!
So many times I choose to forget that this life is mine to live. I am waiting for something– waiting for the housework to be done or my husband to graduate from school or my children to outgrow this new obnoxious phase– and I am not living. I am not relying on Him through everything, and because of that I am bogged down in the details of life and not free to experience the joy of the Lord. He has met my deepest need; everything else is so insignificant compared to that.
He can meet your deepest need too. He did that on Calvary, and He continues to do it daily in the lives of His children, when we allow Him to.
Life is yours to live. Are you living it?