June 20th will be a day that many will not easily forget. It all started as any other rainy day with lots of big grey clouds and more rain in the forecast. How could any of us have known that this would be a day that would go down as one of the worst storms in Alberta history.
In only a few short hours our province as we knew would be changed forever. The rain this time would come as a torrential downpour that would tear up roads, make streams and valleys were there were none before and snap houses off their foundations like they were mere matchsticks. The buckets of rain kept on coming and coming and coming until entire communities were ordered to evacuate for their own safety.
Since that day two weeks ago, many of those evacuated have been allowed to return to their homes to inspect the damage and in some cases start the clean up. For many, they found their main floor garages had filled with water right to the ceiling and sometimes on to the next floor, while others found their homes had been completely filled with water and everything they owned was in ruins. As the water was pumped out came the next slap, all of their belongings that had been under water was covered with a thick grey dirty mud. This job was way to big to handle alone. Extra help was needed.
At one point a call went out for a thousand volunteers to come out in two hours to help. The call was quickly answered with not one but almost four thousand volunteers. Over these two weeks people have not come only from this city but from right across the country and our neighbors to the south. All are here and ready to do whatever needs to be done no matter how hard or how dirty it is. There is one story of how children have helped but not the children you would think. These are from an school in Cambodia. These children had been given a gift of cash and they unanimously decided to share some for the southern Alberta flood relief. They turned the money over to a country and western singer - Paul Brandt - who they had met and trusted to get it to the right spot. The dollars that they shared would have equalled approximately one months wages in Cambodia. If this isn't showing God's love for your fellow man I don't know what is.
My question today is - why are we so surprised that four thousand would show up when only one thousand was needed at that time or that a group of young children would want to help others who have helped them in the past? Isn't that we are supposed to do - see a need and do what we can to fill it. It wasn't that many years ago that if there was need neighbors would band together to help out. If you needed a barn, then a barn raising group would come and help you. If you needed to get your fruits and vegetabes canned for winter several would come and help with that too. Last fall, a friend of mine was making some preserves that was extremely time consuming for one person so another of our friends went and stayed with her all weekend to get the job done.
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied this way, "Love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' We can see that caring attitude in the book of Joshua 2:1-21 where we are introduced to a woman name Rahab. She was known as a prostitute but she really was an amazing woman who took helping her fellow man very seriously. Spies had been sent out to check out how strong their enemies were but they were discovered. They needed a place to hide and hide fast. Not thinking of herself and the danger she was placing herself in she hid these men under the flax drying on her roof. When the soldiers came to her place looking for them she didn't deny they had been there but said they were gone and if the soldiers went one direction they might be able to catch them. Then she sent the spies in the other direction. Detection of this false statement would not have only meant instant death for the spies but her and maybe even some of her family members. Yet, still she helped them.
I acknowledge that today's society lives a very fast lifestyle and many of hardly have time to sit and have dinner together let alone go out and help someone else. But, I say to you that helping our fellow man is not only benificial to the one we help but also to us. After helping you come away with a warm feeling in your heart knowing that you were able to put a smile on someones face or peace in their heart if only for a period of time. Both of you become WINNERS! I can already hear you ask how I think you can volunteer when you feel like your own life like that spinning wheel on a tv game show but not all volunteering takes copious amounts of time. Next time you hear of a need for someone ask God what he would have you do. It might be something as simple as giving a call to a small number of people just to check in on them. I personally know that when I am supposed to go and do something for someone that the Holy Spirit puts into my mind and I can't get it out until I go and act upon it.
We have all been given the same 24 hours in a day to use as best we can. Let us love God and our neighbours. Let's help and encourage them as we would want them to do for us if we were in their situation.