You Don’t Have to Live Like a Refugee

“And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall (Matthew 7:27).”

Hurricane Harvey came to Texas and dumped more than 50 inches in many parts of the city of Houston. In his wake was a swath of destruction. More than 50 people were killed and officials anticipate more bodies will be found as the flood waters recede. (1) More than 50,000 were rescued, half-a-million cars were waterlogged, and an estimated 30-40,000 homes were destroyed as damage estimates exceed $20 billion. (2)

In the midst of the catastrophe some found a symbol of Texas’ resilience in a dog named Otis. (3) The pet was taken to grandfather’s house to ride out the storm while the family retreated for safety. But Otis escaped hauling a full bag of dog food in his muzzle. (3) Like so many, he packed what he could and left. Except, Otis wasn’t fleeing from danger, he was attempting to return home. Ignorantly the mutt was heading for disaster.

Unfortunately, others did the same. A family of six, trying to escape home flooding were drowned when their van was swept into Green’s Bayou. A couple set out after the rain halted and were drug into strong currents and became victims of Harvey as well.

We all like to retain the delusion that we can save ourselves. Having no power nor plumbing and the waters rising to the front door step our household determined to abandon ship. But the water in the driveway was already above the knees and the river in the street was much deeper. We were powerless to rescue ourselves. But a church member with a dump truck came to deliver us and it was a difficult escape. It reminds one of what Peter wrote, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner (1 Peter 4:18 NIV)?”

A great number have suffered the winds and rain beating upon their houses (Matthew 7:24-27). Many even lost their homes and vehicles. But those in the church have been a great symbol of faithfulness to their neighbors and brethren by demonstrating that their treasure is not on earth but laid up in heaven in spite of significant material losses (Matthew 6:19-20). For those forced from their homes others opened theirs to receive them and some even took refuge at the church building. Armies of church volunteers were deployed to help those impacted with the clean-up and repair. Food, blankets, money, and other items of comfort were donated in abundance (Galatians 6:2). None who were displaced were left to wander homeless. It was this spirit that was on display for the entire nation and was especially practiced within the household of God (Galatians 6:10).

After such a catastrophe, it should drive home the fact that none of us have the strength or capability to save ourselves. Ultimately, Otis the dog was saved from himself and returned safely to Grandpa’s house. Not even Noah could boast of saving himself (Romans 4:2) as it was by faith that he prepared the Ark in which God saved him and his family (Hebrews 11:7). And so, it is with all of us; we cannot deliver ourselves but salvation is assured to all, who like Noah act in faithful obedience to the commands of God (1 Peter 3:20-21). If you’ve already been immersed in those waters with Christ (Romans 6:3-8) let the rain descend and the floods and winds beat upon your house with the assurance that it will not fall.

“For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you (Isaiah 54:9).”


Billy Alexander is a member of the church of Christ in Jersey Village in Houston, TX. He and his wife Gwen both work at Hewlett-Packard where they met and have worked more than 25 years each. Billy enjoys teaching Bible several times each week at Jersey Village and Memorial church of Christ. Since 2008, his weekly article "Equipping the Saints" as run in the Jersey Village bulletin.