It has been nearly two weeks since the worst flood in Alberta’s history happened. The good people of High River are slowly but surely returning to their homes. Many will have to completely rebuild, others are in the “mopping up” process. The volunteers continue to pour into the hardest hit areas: High River, Canmore, Bragg Creek, Exshaw, Siksika and of course Calgary. Amazingly, the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth – the Calgary Stampede is scheduled to start on Friday but as expected, some events have had to be moved or cancelled entirely because of the damage to the Saddledome and the Stampede grounds.
I am brought to tears at times by the countless stories of ordinary people who have showed up en masse to help with the cleanup. Neighbour helping neighbour – total strangers showing up unexpectedly with work gloves and rubber boots ready to clean out flooded basements. Restaurants setting up make-shift food stands so volunteers can get a free burger and a welcome, cool drink of water. Children collecting bottles and setting up lemonade stands to raise money for flood relief.
In my community, many of the moms have banded together and have packed up toys, clothes, food, blankets, and anything else that may be needed in the flood-ravaged towns. Local fundraisers have been held; everyone pitching in to help in any way they are able to. When a girl in my church learned that the High River graduates would be postponing their grad and that most of the girls had lost their grad gowns to the flood, she donated her gown and put the call out to others girls in our church to do likewise. My daughters had long gowns they eagerly donated to the cause.
These are heartwarming stories.
Reading yet another posting on Facebook in a Moms group I belong to, I am struck by how so many have responded so quickly and so willingly to the needs of those people who have lost so much due to the flooding. Why is it then that I am troubled?
Is it because we only seem to see this kind of outpouring of care and concern for one another during catastrophic events? What happens to “goodwill towards men” during the mundane, routine, everyday struggles? Times when a friendly smile and a helpful gesture is not global news. We seldom hear news reports of a neighbour shoveling a walk for a shut-in senior, or a meal delivered to a new Mom because she is overwhelmed and exhausted. Those random acts of kindness go unnoticed and unapplauded. When a house is vacuumed for a friend going through chemotherapy treatments, or when a stranger pays for your groceries because you inadvertently left your wallet at home; these are heroic acts on a miniscule scale but are appreciated beyond words.
As Christians we are called to “do good works”. We are NOT to do good for personal glory or benefit. We are NOT to do good because it is expected of us, out of duty or obligation or pressure from others. We “do good” because, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” (Titus 3:3-11)
As Christians, our motivation to “do good” is entirely motivated by our love for the One Who first loved us. It should not be motivated by crisis, by fame, by need, or by want. If we work because it will somehow earn our way into heaven, we have also missed the point and we are lost.
It will take months to rebuild after this flood. After the camera crews have gone, and insurance claims are tallied, the routine and mundane struggles will once again dominate ordinary people’s lives and there will be fewer and fewer volunteers and common-day heroes step up to answer the call. Will we, as Christians, still be ready and willing to respond to our neighbours in need? The world needs “everyday” heroes, not just those who respond during “Hell or High Water” times.