Hemmed in on Every Side
If there was a photo or video, one of them might have captured the sheer hopelessness of the situation. But the fear that surged through my body, partnered with regret, and an onslaught of guilt, could never be caught on camera.
We had just gone to bed when the phone rang with news that flash flooding we thought would miss our area had, in fact, turned its destructive face toward us. Through the pounding rain, we jumped in our truck and drove a mile and a half, cautiously crossing an area of flooding we had never seen before, in order to reach the pasture where we keep horses and donkeys. Massive lakes of water filled the normally dry land on both sides of the road. We could barely see it in the dark and yet there was a strong unmistakable sense of its looming presence. The roar of the creeks, out of their banks and feeding this natural disaster, was louder than my frantic pleas and prayers to our Almighty God. “O God, the rain has to stop! O Lord God, save my babies. O, Father tell us what to do.”
There was no place to pull over so we drove a few miles, desperately searching for an area without flood water that was large enough to turn around. It was dark and desolate. But it was then I felt a calming peace that made no sense under the circumstances. We parked in the middle of the road and my husband got out to shine a flashlight. Allowing my fear to then override the peace I felt, I couldn’t imagine how the horses would have possibly survived. There was just too much water. But there they were… huddled together chest deep…forced up against two locked gates…with our little donkey’s head barely above water. Our boss mare, an old Palomino, turned to look at us with pleading eyes, while our little donkey cried out to us… and I cried harder.
I know 911 is for human emergencies but we didn’t know what else to do. The operator was gentle and kind. And then a deputy, already passing our way, stopped just long enough to tell us they were going to help, but they had others who needed them first. We understood and were grateful. Their willingness giving us hope.
The landowner was the next one to stop. As much as we wanted the horses free, we pleaded with him not to attempt it alone. As the rain began to back off and the water considered receding, the rescuers returned, tied ropes around him, and he waded through the rushing waters to unlock the gates. Our horses, led by the oldest and lowest in the herd, muscled their way across the rapid water and walked calmly and peacefully through the flashing blue lights illuminating the road already blocked and ready for them to crossover.
And, just like that… hemmed in on every side…chest deep and neck deep… in an instant, they were free and walking out on dry ground.
The image of the Israelites approaching The Red Sea, hemmed in on every side, with God as their only hope, came quickly to mind once we were safe. It’s not just our horses, in an unexpected flash flood, that poses a threat. We are often hemmed in by other circumstances. Sometimes it’s finances. Sometimes it’s deadlines on work projects we need to deliver. There have been lawsuits in our lives that sought to destroy us. Sickness, injury, and accidents encircling us and setting their traps. And yet, there is God.
I like to stay closely connected but when the sun is shining, there’s money in the bank, all the deadlines have been met, and no one is being nasty, I figure God will understand if I get back with him a little later. I have things to do and life gets busy. But, let me get hemmed in on every side and you will hear me cry out to the Lord with a loud and proud pleading voice. I am a Daughter of the Most High King, he knows my name, he knows the sound of my voice, and he comes to my rescue! Not because of who I am, but because of who he is.
This morning, our son suggested I pray and ask God to give me peace from the memories of that night. It’s been almost two weeks and I confess I still see each image way too vividly. But there are even more reasons why I need to pray. The Red Sea of our circumstances will threaten us again. As Jesus told us, in this life we will have trouble. So, my mind returns to the Israelites looking for an analogy…hoping for an example…recognizing their manna only lasted for one day. And I know, like them, I will cry out again.
What has you hemmed in?
Finances? Family? Friends? Your job? A substance? An addiction? A betrayal?
Maybe it’s the pressure to perform, maintaining multiple social media accounts.
What are the circumstances that threaten to destroy all that you hold dear?
The very next Bible verse in my prayer journal, following the flood,
was Isaiah 43:1-2. What are the odds, really?
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.”
And, then, the next morning from
Sarah Young’s “Jesus Calling” Devotional, I read:
“On darker days, My Peace stands out in sharp contrast to your circumstances.
See times of darkness as opportunities for My Light to shine in transcendent splendor.
I am training you to practice Peace that overpowers darkness.
Collaborate with Me in this training.
Do not grow weary and lose heart.”
This was the fourth flood since Christmas 2017; so losing heart was certainly up for consideration…not just for me, but also for my family and our horse friends. They stood with us in the darkness stunned by the magnitude of what they were seeing. Saddened by the damage they saw yet again.
It might be easier to give up than to keep fighting to repair gates and fencing after each flood. But we can never give up loving these amazing horses. Five of the eight are rescues and all have brought joy to countless numbers of visitors.
The chains have been broken, the shackles released, the horses are temporarily on higher ground and like the Israelites we will move forward toward The Promised Land!
The road where we turned around that night, we later learned, was the same place a mother trying to move her SUV to higher ground was swept off a bridge and could not be rescued. I’ve cried for her and her family many times since that night. I don’t know why things happen the way they do, but I believe in an all knowing, all caring, all loving Sovereign God. May He have great mercy on her family and be especially close to the broken-hearted.
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