Letter From Langdon: God's Offer
The aerial shots above were taken by chrisrikli Tuesday over Nebraska City, Nebraska, just north of Langdon.
As I put things away in the farm shop the other day, the phone rang. I picked up and a voice on the other end said "Hello, my name is Anton I'm calling you because Lyndon LaRouche wants to take your...."
My normal response to political calls is to hang up. That's what I did, and made a mental note to move the phone up higher. We're having a flood you know. I no more than stepped away from the phone when it rang again. The voice on the wire said hesitantly, "Hello, this is Anton again."
That's when Anton got an earful.
I confess I used an expletive in my brief outburst against poor Anton. He interrupted me to advise that the call was being recorded. As I later told a friend about my little speech to Anton, "That should be some good listening!"
It's not just me, our whole family and all our neighbors get emotional during extreme events of nature.
There's no such thing as a flash flood on the Missouri River bottom at Langdon, in the far northwest corner of Missouri. Mother Nature and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers give you plenty of time to think about it. That means there's just that much more time for mental wear and tear as emotions run from A) casual disbelief; to B) hope; to C) grim resolve; and, finally, D) acceptance.
But it takes a whole lot of the first three before number four kicks in.
Take rumors for instance. About 4 hours of every 24 are spent on the phone calling to see if the latest report is true. Someone says they opened the gates and the water is coming. Work faster. We just have three days. Then the sheriff’s office says it ain't so.
Richard Oswald We try to get our blood pressure back to normal and someone calls to say the levee broke. It didn't. A couple of cars blast up the road past the house. What's wrong? Why are they driving so fast?
Everyone drives fast during a flood even if they're only going for coffee. It's just part of the whole experience. Anything from plumes of dust on a gravel road to unexplained loud noises — like thunder — sends a mainline jolt of adrenaline.
People are all different. During times like these you find out exactly how far that goes. Some of us think more clearly while others become muddled by gossip and the sheer weight of what we don't want to accept. Then the river starts to fall and we think maybe it won't happen. The pressure is off — until the next rainy forecast or news that floodgates up north are opening.
When my friend Julie said she'd pray for us, my mind demanded that I should not accept that hope. So I said, "Better to pray for world peace, because the water is already on the way."
She gave me the benefit of a doubt and called me altruistic. But, really, I wasn't being selfless. I've been here before and seen real life played out to hundreds of possible conclusions. When I was young I had hope for every situation from drought to excessive debt. On the other hand, Dad always seemed grim in the face of adversity.
Now I understand why Dad looked at things the way he did.
Sometimes we just can't escape the inevitable. Spiritual strength is not just about seeking God’s help and favor; it's also about finding grace when escape is impossible.
There's a story about a devout Christian who died in a flood. When he got to heaven he asked the Lord, "How could you let me drown?"
God replied to the man, "I sent your neighbor to warn you, the sheriff in a boat to bring you to high ground, and a National Guard helicopter to pluck you from the roof of your house. Each time you replied 'I don't need you. God will save me.' Why didn't you have enough faith in your fellow man to accept my help?”
Each of us wants God Himself to spare us. The loss of possessions we've spent years working for, our homes, even our way of life all seem too important to give up until we relinquish them one at a time as the water rises up under our chin.
That’s when the realization comes that family and living another day — maybe just taking one more breath — are all that really matters.
Still, it's a bitter pill to see the river come again.
My better half, Linda, put it all in perspective the other day when she said, "You know, we've had plenty of warning. We've been given time to move our things, a place to go, a roof over our heads to wait out the water. Our family is all healthy and safe. Those poor people in the Joplin tornado never had that chance. Everything they owned was gone in a flash. Some lost family, many lost their lives. I'm lucky."
I suppose you could say she has accepted God's offer.
Richard Oswald is a fifth generation farmer living in Langdon, Missouri. His Letter From Langdon is a regular feature of The Daily Yonder.