I was awakened by the whisper of God. Outside the wind was whipping and the rain was pounding loudly on the tin roof. With urgency in my spirit, I quickly dressed. Pulled on my boots, grabbed my hat, kissed my sleepy eyed wife goodbye and headed towards town. Windshield wipers beating off the deluge, I was thankful to have four-wheel drive on my six-mile trek to the church.
As I arrived, I was greeted by many folks, confused and dazed, seeking the safety and refuge of higher ground. In utter dismay I listened to their stories of hopelessness, describing how they had heard children’s cries in the dark for help as they were being swept down the raging river. Later I would learn it had rained in excess of eleven inches in Blanco county, which adding to the already rain-soaked soil, caused the Blanco river to rise some forty-four feet above it’s normal flow. This sent a raging torrent of water right through the heart of Wimberley destroying around three hundred homes and damaging over one thousand.
By the time I made it to the bridge, the water had receded somewhat but was still at about bridge level. Peering through the darkness and blinding rain, it was heart breaking to see the carnage left behind. At first light I was able to take a few pictures that would reveal to the outside world the destructive power and force of a river raging out of control. Unbelievable! No doubt this event will be remembered in history as the great Memorial Day flood of 2015.
In the days that followed, an outpouring of help and assistance arrived. Together we mucked through the mud and debris. I was amazed to see that instead of moaning and complaining, everywhere I witnessed thankfulness and even rejoicing. I heard stories of people singing together, lifting praise to God, as they diligently scrubbed the mud-smeared floors. Everywhere we went we saw hope and heard words of life and encouragement. Neighbors and a community were drawn closer in the midst of this adversity. Sadly though, even at this writing, only a few bodies have been recovered while many are still lost.
Spending my childhood exploring every nook and cranny of this river, I felt a necessity to join in the search for the missing. It is somewhat overwhelming to see people’s lives scattered haphazardly along the riverbanks. In the midst of the search, my eye caught a glimpse of a toy jeep precariously navigating the muddy waters. I wondered at the hours of joy and laughter this jeep had left behind as it journeyed onward downstream toward the Gulf. I have been crossing this bridge into Wimberley for nearly a half a century. I think back through the years and realize I have history with this bridge. My parents crossed this bridge. The friends I grew up with crossed this bridge. My beautiful bride and myself crossed this bridge. My two strong sons crossed this bridge and someday their wives and children will cross this bridge. With the Lord’s blessing, I now call this “A Bridge of Hope.”
As I stand on the bridge looking upstream, to the north is Rio Bonito (Beautiful River) or rather where the cabins of this beautiful resort and refuge once stood. Countless families have vacationed there, played there, and swam in the river there while enjoying the peace and tranquility of this place. Our prayers are with the Meeks family who lost it all but still –ferociously- cling to faith and hope. Old timers spoke of a time when Rio Bonito was the Wimberley Rodeo Grounds. They laughed as they remembered and recounted stories of cowboys being tossed from their mounts into the river. Even earlier, this was rich and fertile farmland. Back when “cotton was king,” I am sure this land produced much needed wealth for struggling farmers and their families. Tall, majestic cypress trees lined the banks of the Blanco River and provided shade and beauty and enjoyment to all. Early Sunday morning floodwaters made a desolation of these beauties. Most are gone, washed downstream, left only to our memory. Some lay fallen on the banks destined for the chainsaw. Oddly enough a few chosen survivors remain. A couple of weeks ago, if you stood from my vantage point you would see these monarchs lining both sides of the river. All were adorned in beauty…tall, strong, majestic, reaching towards the heavens. By God’s grace why are some still standing and some are just a memory?
As I spoke, the land to the north is rich, deep and fertile soil allows the roots of these majesties to grow deep and strong, able to withstand the storm. In contrast, the south side is rocky, lacking depth of soil, causing the roots to be shallow, unable to withstand the storm. Both looked the same, strong and beautiful. The storm came and passed, only to reveal the true and hidden depth of these roots. Some remain, but sadly most are gone.
Years ago, Jesus sat in a boat and taught His followers with parables. He spoke of a farmer sowing seed. Some seed, He said, fell by the way, being gobbled up by birds. Some seed fell on rocky soil where the tree grew but when the storm came it had no depth of root and could not survive. Some seed grew up among the thorns and was choked out by the lure of this world. But still some found rich, deep, fertile soil and were able to withstand the storm and produce a whole lot of fruit.
So I stand on the bridge, teary eyed, looking at both sides of the river and I soberly ask myself this question, “Do my roots go deep in Christ? Are my roots strong enough and deep enough to remain through the storm? And if I remain, is there fruit that glorifies my Father in heaven?”
Those that have ears let them hear!
In these days and in the days to come, may your roots go deep in Jesus. May you stand strong and weather the coming storm. May your life and the lives around you produce bushels of fruit that glorify our Father in heaven. Let the name of the Lord be praised!
In Christ name, amen.
Please pray for Wimberley and the families of lost loved ones. Thank you so much. Bless you.
Grace be with you,