I never imagined I’d be sloshing through two feet of brown floodwater in our church building two weeks after my installation service and three months after we moved to Houston. But there I was this past Friday, with my brother Mike, kayaking across the parking lot and gliding through the glass doors and then wading through our freshly baptized building in that eerie silence created by widespread flooding.
I’d come to get pictures and video of the building along with some belongings from my second-floor office. But I decided to record a tour of the entire first floor so our precious people could feel the invasiveness of this flood and grasp the momentous new chapter God is writing for us. After laboring through waist-high water in the parking lot and entering the south atrium, we made our way into the multipurpose worship center, crossing its bowed gym floor rising suspiciously out of the water like the wooden hull of an overturned boat.
Then we stepped out of the water and ascended the stairs to the stage, a dry electric guitar and drumset to my right, with unbowed microphone stands to my left. I stopped in the center of the stage and offered some commentary about the awkward, undulating rows of chairs, arranged like crooked teeth across the auditorium.
Then I noticed the song sheets on the podium. Our band had rehearsed before we canceled our last service as Hurricane Harvey made landfall. Five dry song sheets sat ready to be sung, and preached—God’s ordained hymnic message for our congregation. I picked them up and started scanning and sharing their lyrics to see what God wanted his church singing in the rain.
Forty-eight hours later, we finally gathered again as a church, borrowing another church’s building. The same band led worship, and we sang the same songs we’d planned to sing before. We could’ve remade the whole service, weaving together a bunch of flood songs and water songs and storm songs (any singing Christian in Houston now recognizes just how much Christian hymnody is soaked with liquid metaphors).
But we decided to keep the song list the same — to sing what God had planned for us to sing. Not because these are the best ones or the right ones or the timely ones, but because when the storms come and the waters rise, Christians don’t change their songs.
Like so many saints before us, God’s calling us to pass through deep waters as we follow him, and we don’t know exactly where he’s leading us. But I’m finding that the Psalms of Israel and the promises of God and the hymns of the saints all sound better in the rain, because they were written in the rain. So these storms only amplify our songs.