Exactly seven years ago today, the worst natural disaster to visit American soil roared her way through my home state. And today, as another hurricane has made landfall on the coast of Louisiana, there are reports of more broken levees and trapped residents in a rural parish south of New Orleans. It is estimated that Isaac could actually dump more rain over parts of Louisiana and Mississippi than his big sister Katrina did.
As I’ve read the news reports today I’m reminded how, as the world slowly became aware of the real-life nightmare occurring in New Orleans on August 29, 2005, rumblings of the blame game and political finger-pointing were growing to about the same fury as the hurricane winds. There was really no way to know “whose fault” it was, and to be honest, why would it really matter when you’ve got a whole city under water? But during that time, as I did a bit of research, I discovered how the impact of one man’s misjudgment some 300 years ago had wrought terrible consequences, and with it a simple spiritual lesson. I’ve decided to share it again here:
French colonist Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville was warned by his engineers about the dangers of mapping a settlement in the pinch of swampland surrounded by three rather massive bodies of water. But the colonist disregarded these warnings about the hazards of flooding and settled anyway. It makes you wonder why he would do it. Perhaps the potential for prosperity—the Port of New Orleans did become one of the country’s busiest—made the dollar signs in Bienville’s eyes overshadow the warning signs. Or perhaps he thought the water could be manipulated and “held at bay.” Whatever his reasons, they were strong enough to override the threat of danger.
And isn’t that just how man is? We think our way is best. We believe if we can plan and manipulate just a little, then everything will work out fine, and maybe we’ll even gain a bit of recognition or fame. Wrong. Consider the men in Genesis 11.
“They said to each other, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens so that we may make a name for ourselves…”
And the result?
“The LORD said, ‘Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other’ ”
No, I am not suggesting that God came down and wrought havoc on New Orleans or any other affected city, in 2005 or today. I’m simply drawing a parallel. When we disregard truth, the results can be devastating. The Lord had told the descendants of Noah to scatter and fill the earth, because He knew what was best. Not unlike Bienville, or even us, they refused to listen and demanded their own way. And, it was not good.
So what is the solution? Trust God! The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you” (Psalm 33:8).
When will we learn that to trust and obey is really the only way? God is light and in him there is no darkness. We have no reason to be suspicious of His motives, yet our tendency to try and make life happen on our own terms indicates that we are. He tells us that He knows the thoughts He thinks toward us and His plan for us is good. So in the vernacular of the Genesis account, let us lay down our own plans and agendas and instead pick up His.
Lastly, it is evident that countless others may sometimes suffer greatly because of the poor decision of one man. You may be suffering today, not because of your own poor decisions, but because of someone else’s. Even so, continue to trust God. He promises to bring good out of any situation for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. We do not have to try to control, fix, or manipulate. Just listen for the Shepherd’s voice and trust that He is guiding you along the best pathway for your life. He will not lead you astray.