Tsunami Warning

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There are some movies I can watch over and over and never grow tired of.

The Impossible is not one of those movies.

Aside from the freakishly gory leg injury Maria Belon suffered in the surging floodwaters, this movie touches those parts of my psyche that I prefer to keep safely tucked away under layer upon layer of thick skin, stiff upper lip, and stoicism. In one fell swoop it takes all my greatest fears about family and motherhood – namely, the great tragedy in which I lose my children, my husband, and all the hopes and dreams attached to them – and unravels the cords of practical thinking I’ve tied tightly around them to keep them from consuming my days and overwhelming my thoughts. And I don’t like unraveling.

But the images of that horrific act of nature are hard to forget. Innocent people, caught unaware, unprepared, swept away in a moment by the wave of a lifetime. Men, women, and children crushed by the unrelenting press of debris pressed into too-narrow spaces and uneven terrain. People of all races – natives and tourists – suddenly thrust together in a floating flotsam of uprooted villages, displaced vehicles, and general destruction headed swiftly toward nowhere. The heartwrenching stories are difficult to hear, unbearable to see, and impossible to comprehend.

A few years ago, my family found itself in a wilderness experience. A season of dryness. Barrenness. Hopelessness. Discouragement. But also, a season of learning how to persevere through withering days and restless nights. We learned about trusting God for daily provision, much like manna, that was always just enough and never too much. We witnessed miracles of divine direction, life-giving refreshment, and possible impossibilities that affirmed God’s character and reinforced His faithfulness.  Eventually He led us to the shores of a wide-open promised land of blessing and peace.

In recent weeks, however, we’ve seen the landscape changing. Our solid ground shook with increasing intensity, and those once-peaceful waves withdrew, gathering into a powerful and menacing force headed directly for our idyllic shores.

To our credit, we knew the tsunami was coming. We recognized the signs and began preparations. As the waters gained strength and momentum, we gathered our resources and strengthened our resolve. We would not be caught unaware.

And then that first wave hit.

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Despite our best efforts and intentions, nothing could have prepared us for that moment. In an instant, our feet were swept out from beneath us, and we found ourselves pushed along by the forceful current. As wave after wave crested over the now-flooded shores, we were carried further and further from our place of safety and security, further and further into an unknown place where nothing is familiar and the way back is unclear.

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We now find ourselves in a brand-new territory. Not in the adventurous, lets-go-exploring kind of way, but in a frightening, eye-opening, how-did-I-get-here-and-h0w-do-I-get-home? kind of way. Yet in the midst of the chaos, within the confusion, there is peace. Buried under layers of devastation and debris, there is hope. Despite being battered and beaten, bruised and torn, there is healing.

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you. (Isaiah 43:1-2)

And so we trust. We remember the faithfulness of our God: His presence and provision in our desert experience, His guidance and goodness in our wilderness wanderings. We remember His character and rely on His constancy.

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And so we do not fear the deep waters. We are not overwhelmed by the raging rivers. As we pick up the pieces of our former reality, we find the strength we need is already provided. As we forge ahead into a new and unfamiliar territory, we discover grace is already there to meet our need.

The way is not easy, but unlike Hollywood, it is not impossible.