A deputy reported that he had to abandon his car because a two story house was coming down the street toward him. A retired truck driver had left his pickup to try to help someone in a stalled car and wound up being swept away and pinned against a wall by a floating tree with his head barely above water for seven hours before being rescued. His wife and two children managed to survive in the pickup all night, rescuing one man by grabbing him as he was swept by. Another family lost four of their five children, including a two year old, when they tried to escape their vehicle. The water was simply too strong for them to hold on or be held onto. In all, 238 people died and more than 3000 were injured, over 1300 homes and 5000 vehicles were destroyed, and damages reached $165 million. Multiply that several times for an amount in today's dollars. (latimes.com)
I cannot imagine the terror those people felt as a wall of water 12 feet high came barreling toward them. We have only a small inkling from our experiences.
We live on a hillside. You don’t really notice it when you first drive onto the property. The hill is shallow as hills go, dropping about twenty feet in five hundred. In another climate one would seldom think anything of it. But in Florida, in the summer, torrential downpours are common. Not too long ago we had two and a half inches come down in less than thirty minutes. Two or three days before we had six inches, but it took all day to accumulate that. When nearly half that much pours out of the sky in such a short time, you feel like ten have fallen instead.
It was as if a giant bucket were being upended over us. We could hardly see the blueberries only a hundred feet away. The roar on the metal roof was deafening. The rushing water overwhelmed the culvert in the drive and washed over the road and out to the garden where it ran against the berm in a narrow creek clearly visible from the house. We had built that berm precisely because of rains like this one—we were tired of wading “downstream” to rescue washed away garden plants.
Eventually we left our viewing station on the porch which was not much shelter in a rain like that—the merest breeze left us damp and shivering, even in the summer. So we stepped back inside and looked out the windows to the north. Now you could really tell—we are definitely on a hill. Water ran like a river across the entire width of the yard, from the front steps to the fence, ten to twelve inches deep. We watched leaves, twigs, and moss float “downstream” to the run on the east side of the property. After the rain stopped, it kept running, draining the whole hillside, for another two hours.
A week after that rain, I walked the path the water had taken. Leaves were washed into piles a foot deep along the runnel. Limbs hung up on some of the bushes but others, dragged by the running water, lay piled up against the fence which had acted as a sieve as the water ran through it. Channels several inches deep marked the dried mud, and the grass was still bent over in the direction the water had flowed. Running water is powerful. And that leads us to an even more powerful Flood.
The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep, Gen 7:17-20.
The waters of the great Flood “prevailed.” Those waters not only covered the earth, they drowned every living creature on it that was not in the ark or swimming in the newly created worldwide ocean. Have you ever seen a flash flood? Have you ever heard the stories of one like the one in the Black Hills? No one can win against those “prevailing” waters. If you try to hang on to something, you simply wear out and are washed downstream.
The same word is used in Ex 17:11: So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. We are talking about winning a war with that word; that’s the strength implied in its use. It should be no surprise that “prevailed” is also translated “strong” and “mighty.”
So why is that important? Because the same Hebrew word is used in Psalm 117:2. For great [that same Hebrew word] is His steadfast love toward us. God’s love for us is strong; it is mighty. It is like rushing water that carries along everything in its path. It is like an army winning a war. Sometimes we seem to doubt that. “But I’ve been so bad,” we say, “how can God love me?” He can love you because His love is great. It can prevail against the worst of sins.
The next time you doubt it, think about flood waters. Think about an army that can win a war. God’s love is just like those things. It prevails over all.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand John 10:28,29.