(Photo: courtesy of Google Images)
These past few days, the Philippines has been suffering from floods caused by the typhoon Maring (known internationally as “Trami”). My residence in Cainta is not exempted from being turned into a “Waterworld” scene. Fortunately for my household, the floodwaters have not entered our premises like it did in last year’s habagat and in 2009’s typhoon Ondoy when the water reached waist-deep inside our home. However, usual day-to-day outdoor activities have ceased. It did turn out to be a blessing in disguise for me because I have been needing to have a rest/break from my very busy (but absolutely rewarding) life.
Speaking of rest, I was watching the movie 2012 with my mother earlier in HBO. It brought to mind another “deluge” experience I had in Kalibo, my father’s hometown. We went to Kalibo in December 2012 because my grandfather died. The night before his funeral, it was raining. There was a small river about half a kilometer from my grandparents’ home. When the river grew, it spilled and continued to rise and cover the land. It was around 7 or 8 in the evening, at which time everyone was supposed to be asleep as is the custom in many provinces. However, we were still up because of the wake so we were able to monitor the rise of the water level.
When the water reached the backyard, we prepared to evacuate the house. We raised items that might be drenched in water. I put in my backpack all our electronic gadgets and other valuables. My father and the other males were left behind in the house to raise my grandfather’s coffin up to the ceiling and guard the house. Within minutes, the water was knee-deep. All females started the long and cold walk towards the Sports Coliseum (temporarily turned into an evacuation center) against the strong current, which made the walk even more difficult for us. My favorite pink slippers gave out while in the midst of wading through the flood so I had to continue walking barefoot. When we reached the main highway, the water was up to our thighs. I was wearing shorts but I still had to pull the edges up to keep them dry.
Finally, we reached our destination. We climbed up the cold concrete bleachers to the top level and settled there. It was like sitting on ice. I didn’t have anything to keep me warm, except my shorts and long-sleeved shirt I was wearing. I only had the electronic gadgets in my bag. Silly me, I forgot to bring any extra clothes. Haha! I tried to sleep, but it felt like lying on ice. The furious rain pounded on the rooftop so loudly. When I was about to fall asleep, the roof started to leak and drops of rain kissed my cheeks and kept me awake. The hard flat surface of the concrete was bad for my scoliosis as well. I suffered extreme pain in my back and hips as a result of trying to sleep on the ice cold concrete with no cushion or mat.
In addition, a few minutes after arriving at the Coliseum, the power went out. It was pitch black. You couldn’t even see your own hands even when you raise them up in front of your face. Everything was quiet and still. There was only the darkness and the sound of the water splashing against the walls. There was nothing else to do but wait and pray.
At that very moment, a thought came to my mind. It was not one of fear, but of wonder. I wasn’t in the least bit frightened by all that was happening. In contrast, I was quite amused and excited because it was my first time to be in an evacuation center because of a flood. We have been flooded before here in Cainta, but we just stayed in the house until the flood was gone. So there in the Coliseum in the midst of darkness, I immediately thought about Noah and his family and how they must have felt sitting inside the ark in the darkness, waiting and praying, while listening to the water splashing against the ark.
If we think about it, Noah had no nautical engineering education. He has never even built any large vessel prior to the ark. He was a simple man. Yet, he survived the greatest deluge ever experienced by man in an ark he had built with his sons. Why? Because he trusted fully in Jehovah and followed His instructions to the letter. “He did just so.” (Genesis 6:22) He put his life and the life of his family in Jehovah’s hands, and Jehovah didn’t disappoint him. He kept him and all those with him in the ark safe.
Like in Noah’s day, “the earth [has come] to be ruined in the sight of the true God and [has become] filled with violence… because all flesh had ruined its way on the earth.” (Genesis 6:11, 12) This wicked system of things is about to be annihilated, and Jehovah is sending us instructions through his “faithful and discreet slave” on how to survive this impending spiritual deluge that will cleanse the earth. (Matthew 24:45; Genesis 6:13; 7:4) Do we imitate Noah by carefully heeding and listening to all the instructions given to us, even when at times we might not understand or agree with them? Are we always present and paying close attention in the meetings, where these life-saving instructions are given? Remember that our salvation depends on our obedience to Jehovah’s instructions.
Likewise, Jehovah’s visible organization is a spiritual ark. If we want to live, we need to stay inside our ark, inside our organization. For those outside the ark, the door is still wide open. And our duty as Jehovah’s Witnesses is to warn people of this impending doom and encourage others to come inside and stay in our spiritual ark.
For those of us already inside, we shouldn’t expect a 5-star cruise ship accommodation and treatment. Our spiritual ark will be packed and filled with similarly drenched people wanting to be shielded from the torrential rains outside. We should be at the ready to give them our warmest love and compassion and to assure them that they too will be saved as long as they follow Jehovah’s divine instructions.
We are Jehovah’s “Rescue and Recovery Team”. It is our duty to go out and warn people. It is our duty to beseech people to evacuate to Jehovah’s spiritual ark. It is our duty to find and bring back those “lost sheep,” who stubbornly choose to value their material possessions more than their life, before it’s too late. (Matthew 6:10, 11, 14) As baptized Witnesses, we should know that our duties, our responsibilities are not easy. They are weighty, and there will be hardships. There will be times when a brother or sister might “step on our foot” and hurt us. Will we leave the ark and forfeit our safety just because a brother or sister “stepped on our foot”? NO! We are Jehovah’s Witnesses! For those loving Jehovah, “there is no stumbling block.” (Psalms 119:165)
Let us make it our resolve to fulfill our duties as baptized Witnesses and to imitate Noah by carefully obeying Jehovah’s divine instructions and accepting his loving discipline. Let us “choose life in order that [we] may keep alive.” (Deuteronomy 30:17-20) Let us trust fully in Jehovah and strengthen our faith, like Noah. (Proverbs 3:5, 6; Hebrews 10:23-25; 11:1, 7) If we prove faithful until the end, we will witness something more beautiful than a rainbow. We will witness the fulfillment of God’s promise of everlasting life in the abundance of peace under His Kingdom on a paradise earth with our faithful brothers and sisters. (Genesis 9:11-16; Psalms 37:10, 11, 29)
As for us here in the Philippines, we are waterproof. There is no storm that can dampen our spirits permanently. Most Filipinos are not well off (myself included). So these floods give us a chance to experience our very own “indoor swimming pool” that other wealthy people enjoy. The only difference is, our “indoor pool” looks like milk tea. Haha!
(Photo: courtesy of Google Images)
* Click here to watch a heartwarming video.