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"When You Pass Through The Waters..." The Cedar Rapids Flood—A Lesson in Repentance

Updated on September 5, 2017

In the Aug of 2008, our church was invited to Cedar Rapids Iowa to take part in a mission to help with the clean up of their city after a devastating flood in June of that year to which Kris our church secretary and myself responded.

I wish I could say that I had such noble motives for going such as deep sympathy for those I was going to be helping but I must be honest and say that I really went in an attempt to distract myself from the misery I was in at the time. I reasoned that if I was going to be miserable I might as well be useful rather than to sit around and feel sorry for myself.

I believe I was in the middle of a course correction from the Lord. that lasted a little over a year and a half. In that year and a half, I had experienced such profound anxiety that I lost much sleep, weight, and sometimes hope.

"I will allure her, Will bring her into the wilderness, And speak comfort to her. I will give her her vineyards from there, And the Valley of Achor (trouble) as a door of hope"

— Hosea 2

This all started at the end of 2007 when the Lord confronted me on some specific areas of disobedience relating to my engaging in things that 20 years prior led to sins that tore my family apart. I had reasoned with myself that I was older and wiser now and...well...most Christians I know do these things. I was pretty sure that God didn't mind prior to the confrontation.

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet...

— Isaiah 1:18

I was walking down the gravel road near my home and I heard the Lord say in my heart "You're a hypocrite" It wasn't a condemning voice but a very matter of fact one. I thought for a moment and then replied, "Your right Lord, but I feel so far away I don't know how, nor do I have the desire to change, and the only thing I can think of is if maybe you could put your fear in my heart."

by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil

— Proverbs 16:6

About a month or so after this conversation a non-descript free floating anxiety began creeping in. It was like a slow moving tidal wave that by mid winter of the following year became an overwhelming tsunami of fear that would have me drowning in daily terror. I would get maybe one hour of sleep a night and was unable to eat much at all.

I am weary with my groaning; All night I make my bed swim

— Psalm 6

As I sought the Lord it became clear to me that this was the fear that I had asked for. I had no desire to do anything but seek Him. I gave up everything I felt was displeasing to Him and sought His comfort every moment of every second of every day.

“The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.”

— Proverbs 14:27


He always reminded me of His presence in the process but He was not going to let me up easy.

I went up for prayer during a prayer service at our church and about halfway through the service, our pastor's wife who didn't know very much at all about what I was going through prayed for me and shared, "I feel like the Lord is saying that you are not done yet". I groaned with disappointment because I didn't know how much more I could take. As I lamented in prayer, I felt like the Lord was impressing upon me that if He let me up too soon I would just go back to the way things were and that in order to be refined I would do well to submit to His refining fire.

He is like a refiner’s fire And like launderers’ soap

— Malachi 3:2

I was quickly and deeply learning a valuable lesson of God's jealous love. When we live in habitual or deliberate sin it is idolatrous and faithless toward our God. He is worthy of so much more than that.

I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God

— Exodus 20


Lessons From the Flood

On one of the first days of service in Cedar Rapids, we entered a neighborhood that looked as if the end of the world had happened. Block after block of the city was virtually uninhabited. 10 Square miles of the city were affected by the flood which amounted to 7,198 properties that were underwater to some degree. It was eerily like a ghost town.

We began our work by gutting a house down to its two by fours. A team had been there before us and we were picking up where they had left off. I was hoping all the physical work would burn up my anxiety but it continued to wash over me with ever-swelling waves. At one point I ran outside and hid behind a large tree so I could cry unnoticed. Hiding was easy as there was no traffic and no one in the neighborhood but our team working on the house. As I cried out to the Lord to deliver me from this awfulness I turned my head and saw painted on the house next door was this...

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you....

— Isaiah 43:2

Just one Word from God can calm the storm for me and I was learning in this process to be completely dependent upon His comfort alone which was most often via His Word.

And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling... Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea,“Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm

— Mark 4:37-39

The anxiety had not completely left but I was able to pull it together enough to get back to work.

At the end of the day, I stood back and looked at the shell of the house we had just completed. There really was nothing left but two by fours. I felt like the Lord was giving me a visual of what He was doing in my heart...stripping me right down to the skeletal structure of my being.


On another day while we were dragging stuff out of a house and dumping it on the boulevard for the garbage haulers to take away (another metaphor for what He was doing in my life) I looked down and beneath this tree, I saw a strange-looking flower that seemed to have no greenery or leaves. I asked if anyone knew what it was. One of the guys on the team replied, "it is a Naked Lady" I thought he was joking and so I replied, "Sorry I asked" but later discovered that this was, in fact, the name of the flower.

I decided to look up this "Naked Lady" flower when I got home and discovered it is otherwise known as the Resurrection Lily. I discovered that this particular flower has a strange lifecycle. It produces greens with no flower in the fall than the greens die off by spring. It appears that the plant is dead but after a dry summer dormancy it spouts up these interesting flowers. The flower spoke to me that this time of correction was about being stripped and made naked and it would appear for a time that everything was dry and dead but when the time was right He would cause me to be resurrected.

“I will return and take away My grain in its time And My new wine in its season, And will take back My wool and My linen, Given to cover her nakedness.

— Hosea 2:9

I sincerely felt exposed as if everyone knew my sin and shame and yet I understood that it was all for good.

When I recounted this story to a friend recently who was going through a similar process and she asked, "Would God really put us through that?" As if God would never give us that kind of discomfort to which I explained that on the other side of all of the discomfort I learned to love and respect Him more than I ever have before.

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”...Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

— Hebrews 12:5,6,11

I learned in that process that the terms of His covenant are reciprocal. And it was during that year and a half's time that I learned about His covenant name YHWH in reference to this.

At a women's conference, the pastor's wife called me out again and said, "the Lord wants me to tell you that He is "Yahweh" and explained that she wasn't sure what that meant.

I knew a little bit about the name but made a point to further prayerfully investigate. What I learned was that YHWH is the covenant name that is used in scripture when God is dealing with those with whom He has a relationship with. This was comforting in that God was affirming that He was still in a relationship with me but I also knew that there was something more.

The something more was that God wanted something from me in the way of loyalty, faithfulness, and commitment God sacrificed His one and only Son to restore the covenant that once was between God and man (me included). The piece I was missing was my responsibility to that relationship which was reciprocation. God displayed His love for me in such an incredible sacrificial way and I was living as if my sin was not a big deal to Him. I was not reciprocating my love and loyalty to Him the way He had to me by behaving the way I was.

Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

— Hebrews 10:29

I had a dream one night about this. I dreamed that I was going to a church function of some kind and I had made a salad but I had forgotten it in the hot trunk of my car where it had sat for many hours. It occurred to me that maybe I shouldn't serve it but then reasoned that it would probably be alright and maybe no one would mind or notice. As I entered the church I noticed that there was a bar off to the right which seemed so strange and I tried to pretend I didn't notice it. I then placed my salad on the table and the atmosphere became dark.

I asked the Lord what this meant. He said, "The bar in the church is you trying to live with your foot in both worlds. You're pretending not to notice is what you have been doing in this matter that you know is wrong. The salad is your service and gifts to me that are spoiled and tainted and yet you serve them anyway thinking no one will care or notice. Well, I care and I notice" He then proceeded to tell me that when I walked into the place of service I was standing on was and is Holy Ground and I would do well to take off my shoes. (Put off my sin) He told me that I was never again to bring myself with the filth of my worldliness into that place again.

I must tell you that I trembled for a time whenever I served. I learned a necessary humility and respect in this. Oddly enough now it has caused me to serve with much more boldness than I had before.

"Chastening is a part of the peculiar heritage of all sons and daughters of God. The great Husbandman does not prune the brambles outside His garden-wall, but He does the fruit trees within. Better far to be His wounded trees than the unwounded thorns of the wilderness" ~ G.H. Knight "In the Secret of His Presence"

"many of the trials which he sends us are for the purpose of weaning our hearts from the creature, and fixing them more closely upon himself. Let this jealousy which would keep us near to Christ be also a comfort to us"

— Charles Spurgeon "Morning and Evening" devotional September 12

"It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you.. "~ Genesis 9:14-15 My Backyard looking to the west
"It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you.. "~ Genesis 9:14-15 My Backyard looking to the west

Toward the end of this season of correction one morning I was sitting on my bedroom floor looking out my window towards the west I saw a double rainbow...

"With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” Says the Lord, your Redeemer"

“For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, So have I sworn That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you ~ Isaiah 54:8,9

"The rainbow, the symbol of the covenant with Noah, is typical of our Lord Jesus,...When the sinner's conscience is dark with clouds, when he remembers his past sin, and mourneth and lamenteth before God, Jesus Christ is revealed to him as the covenant Rainbow, displaying all the glorious hues of the divine character and betokening peace...God's rainbow is hung over the cloud of our sins, our sorrows, and our woes, to prophesy deliverance. ... punishment must fall in terrible drops upon the Surety. Until there is a real anguish in the sinner's conscience, there is no Christ for him; until the chastisement which he feels becomes grievous, he cannot see Jesus. But there must also be a sun; for clouds and drops of rain make not rainbows unless the sun shineth. Beloved, our God, who is as the sun to us, always shines, but we do not always see him--clouds hide his face; but no matter what drops may be falling, or what clouds may be threatening, if he does but shine there will be a rainbow at once. It is said that when we see the rainbow the shower is over. Certain it is, that when Christ comes, our troubles remove; when we behold Jesus, our sins vanish, and our doubts and fears subside. When Jesus walks the waters of the sea, how profound the calm!"

— Charles Spurgeon "Morning and Evening" devotional

It was the closing argument in the flood of judgment that had just gone over me.

I conclude with the reiteration that I have learned to love Him more deeply than ever and I am forever grateful for His love, His discipline and for putting His fear in my heart.

...I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me.

— Jeremiah 34:20

I have learned that God's Judgement is really His mercy calling us back home to where we belong.

God is good all the time!


Oh How He Loves Us ~ Kim Walker

© 2013 Tamarajo


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    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 4 years ago

      Thank you drpastorcarlotta for your encouragement and vote. Always so grateful for His discipline it means we are His. Bless you!

    • drpastorcarlotta profile image

      Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 4 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

      Love the way you presented this article to us. You once was dead and now you're ALIVE in Him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE YOU! AMEN!! Voted-Up!!

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 4 years ago

      Hello MsDora, Yes it is a new life since then. The scriptures interspersed are a few of the many that were revealed to me through this process. I am so grateful for His confrontation through His Word. His Word truly is..

      "living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

      I see it all as His love.

      Thank you for your visit and encouragement.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for sharing your experience of "death and resurrection." I like the way you interspersed those scripture verses between the episodes--like anchors keeping you afloat. Yes, God is good--all the time.

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 4 years ago

      Hi Timlove on the note of being ready when He comes... this was one of the themes of confrontation I experienced along with the parable of the ten virgins and the verse that speaks of Him claiming to have never known those who do not do what He says but call Him their Lord. And one other verse... not wanting to be counted with the unbelieving and hypocrites (those claiming to believe but living otherwise).

      I believe I was being asked at the time to pick which side I was on and get on that side whole heartedly. Mixing both worlds makes for nothing but to make God nauseous and for us to be spit out of His mouth. (Rev. 3)

      You are correct the deception has crept into deceive even the very elect. Most recently discovered a well known preacher promoting some very popular cultural yet clearly unbiblical ideas that made me cringe. Compromise is rampant in cultural Christianity that refuses to set itself apart. We will not win the world by becoming like it. We are to be in the world but not of it. God continually admonished His people to not become like the nations around them. This does not mean that we are to perceive ourselves as any better or more valuable nor entitle ourselves to any form of unkindness or rejection of people. It does however mean that He has called us to a higher standard that we must follow as examples and witness of the truly set apart (Holy One) they are really looking for.

      Many claim that this is legalism. I call it loyalty. This does not mean that we are to judge the world for this but we are to hold accountable those who claim to know Him especially ourselves. (I Corinthians 5:12)

      Thank you for your support and affirmation.

    • Timlove profile image

      Timlove 4 years ago from upstate New York

      Amen and amen to that comment sister!!! very well said and so true. God is preparing his bride and you are one. people are wise who heed what you are saying. Let us not be caught not ready when the bridegroom comes. So glad you see the deception in the church that has caused a lukewarm christianity. Not that we come against people,we battle not against flesh and blood. It is a very evil deceptive spirit that has krept into the church that has the ability to decieve even the very elect. Those of us who see and are called we have the liberty to unite and come against this spirit as long as we stay in love and not bite and devour one another. So glad to have you on board Tamarajo.

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 4 years ago

      Hi James, I suppose it does seem to be a harsh confrontation but unfortunately it was how He had to deal with me at that time. God has shown His unending mercy to me so many times in my life and in this case His mercy was in the form of discipline.

      I do think at times in life we push and test His limits just as children do their parents and this was the result.

      I also think that it speaks to a larger problem in the church altogether. We have so mixed the ways of the world in with the ways of faith that it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish the difference between the two that is making us a confusing mess in the eyes of a watching world.

      Let judgment begin with the house of God. Let it begin with us. (I Peter 4:17) always in view that judgment is always with the intent of bringing us to repentance and return to the Lord. It really is for our own good and the good of those around us.

      Blessed to have you stop by James.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

      'He said, "The bar in the church is you trying to live with your foot in both worlds. Your pretending not to notice is what you have been doing in this matter that you know is wrong. The salad is your service and gifts to me that are spoiled and tainted and yet you serve them anyway thinking no one will care or notice. Well, I care and I notice" He then proceeded to tell me that when I walked into the place of service I was standing on was and is Holy Ground and I would do well to take off my shoes. (Put off my sin) He told me that I was never again to bring myself with the filth of my worldliness into that place again.'

      Wow. My goodness. I am speechless, which believe me is a rarity.

      Thank you.


    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 4 years ago

      Lifegate, Glad we stuck with it too!! God being my father and mother really was and is very liberating to me. I was able to not define the roles based upon experience but based solely upon who God is as revealed in His Word and experience as I reached out, and continue to do so, to Him.

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 4 years ago

      Hi Voice, I am pleased to report that the reported storm is past and has left me on much firmer ground because of it.

      The signs along the way were extremely comforting even though they were correcting. The only thing that truly comforted me at that time was to hear Him say something. I didn't care if it was harsh or corrective. As David prayed so many times "please don't be silent to me" as in Psalm 28:1. I was just glad that He was on and by my side.

      I had not heard the song you referred to but I did look it up and how fitting the words to this song are and fitting with essence of the message of this hub. I will add them to this reply because of that.

      DONNIE MCCLURKIN - Speak to my heart lyrics

      Speak to my heart, Holy Spirit

      Give me the words that will bring new life

      Words on the wings of the morning

      the dark night will fade away

      If you speak to my heart

      Speak to my heart, Holy Spirit

      Message of love to encourage me

      Lifting my heart from despair

      How you loved me and cared for me

      If speak to my Heart

      Speak to my Heart Lord

      Give me your Holy Word

      If I can hear from you,then I'll know what to do

      I won't go alone, I'll never go on my own

      Just let your Spirit guide and let your word abide

      Speak to my Heart

      Amen SPEAK LORD!

      Thank for reading Voice and your insightful comments.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Several years ago my wife went through a similar experience. It was a very trying time in her life, but I believe her to be better off for it as well. Although that experience has passed she still struggles from time to time with the "Father" concept. It's hard for her to process that our Heavenly Father is not like our earthly father. Glad you both stuck by the stuff!

    • profile image

      VOICE CIW 4 years ago

      God bless you Sister Tamarajo, what you went through or are still going through, a lot of us christians have gone through or will go through, but it will not be in the same way as you are going through. God is dealing with you directly, and in a way it is beautiful, because judging by your experience with God in this situation, God is showing love and concern for your well-being. As you go through (reading from your hub) God is showing you signs, and most of all He is there with you. Sister Tamarajo, God is also showing His love for you. There is a song, and you probably know it, but it starts off, " Speak to my heart, Holy Spirit, send me the Word that will bring new life. " Sister Tamarajo you are truly blessed of the Lord, shout out with joy and say, "SPEAK LORD! " Stay blessed, I love you in the Lord.

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 4 years ago

      Thank you Timlove. I find the experience beautiful as well because in it I discovered His true faithfulness in a tough love sort of way. It certainly has brought a genuineness to my faith that did not exist before.

      In the middle of that experience I trembled at the idea of being someone He claimed to have never known as He spoke of in Matthew 7:21-23 or be counted with the hypocrites as in Matthew 24:45-51 These were all verses I was confronted with during that season. I felt He was sincerely asking me whose side was I on and it was a valid question.

      I really like the quote you shared

      "we are not sinners because we sin, we are sinners because we have a sinful nature and the work of the cross was so that we would not only have forgiveness for our sins, but so that in Christ our very nature would be changed or better put "transformed"

      That is a very fitting revelation to this experience as well.

      ...still transforming

      Blessed for the encouragement and visit.

    • Timlove profile image

      Timlove 4 years ago from upstate New York

      I think this is one of the most beautiful hubs I have ever read. Although what you went through was a horrible experience our Lord was doing such a beautiful transformation in you, just like the naked lady plant goes through. What you described is the true gospel. A wise man once said we are not sinners because we sin, we are sinners because we have a sinful natuure and the work of the cross was so that we would not only have forgivness for our sins ,but so that in Christ our very nature would be changed or better put "transformed". A death of the old nature and a beautiful new nature coming through that is in the image of the son of God.

      Beautiful Tamarajo, just beautiful!!

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 4 years ago

      shofarcall Amen that all praise and honor to our loving Abba Father that loves us enough not to just let us drift away from Him without confrontation.

      I appreciate your affirmation to the message as it was a difficult message to share in that it does expose an unpleasant and unflattering part of my spiritual journey. But in all that ickiness I learned so many valuable lessons that may be useful or helpful to some in understanding the greatness and goodness of our God and Father who is worthy of our praise and how we relate to Him in living this life out in worship of Him.

      Thank you so much for your encouraging comment. I am blessed by your visit.

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 4 years ago

      lifegate Yes it is truly wonderful that He knows how to deal with each one of us as needed even if it us unpleasant at times. He is a good good father!

      Another valuable lesson I learned in relation to this... that I didn't share in the article was that growing up in a broken family left me with some skewed ideas of what a father is and does. I saw my father maybe a dozen times a year and received no discipline because our interactions were so limited. I perceived my step fathers discipline as harsh and uncaring (emphasis on perceived) God melded these two concepts of father for me that His love and faithfulness to me includes when needed painful discipline. They are not separate from one another. It was a stunning and welcome revelation.

      Good to hear that you found the story glorifying to Him. He is worthy! Blessed as always by your visits and comments.

    • shofarcall profile image

      shofarcall 4 years ago

      Thank you, thank you tamarajo for sharing so succinctly with us, how it was for you during this period when the Lord chastened you.

      He Chastens us because he loves us.

      All Praise and honour to you Abba Father.

      This is an amazing witness to a season in your intimate relationship with YHVH.

      Even down to the empty house (skeleton) and then the "naked Lady" flower (Resurrection Lily) being shown to you. How great is our God.

      May your walk with YHVH become ever closer.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Isn't God wonderful! He cares for each of us and knows what each of us needs at any given time. He has been lifted up and you gave glorified Him. Love the way you tied in the scripture!

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 4 years ago

      Hello FriendofTruth, I seriously did not anticipate the intensity nor the duration of that work of "fear in my heart" that I asked for but I am forever grateful for it. I know God doesn't always use these methods but I do believe it was necessary for Him to do it that way in this case and I am so glad He did. It was like a spiritual chemo therapy.

      I do hope that the testimony will be useful. I see so much of Christianity lived in the way I was living it by many...trying to live in both realms of flesh and spirit and just rationalizing it away. It's such a dangerous game to play and it truly insults the greatness of the grace He has given us as it says in Hebrews 10:29

      He is so good and so worthy of so much more!

      Thank you so much for reading and your encouragement.

    • FriendofTruth profile image

      FriendofTruth 4 years ago from Michigan

      You have a great testimony of God's faithfulness to correct His children. It is awesome how you asked for the fear of the LORD to be in you and how you were faithful to endure and to learn what He was trying to put in your heart. It can be hard when we learn and hear from Him on areas that He wants to deal with us, because it can be so difficult to face ourselves in that way. But like you were faithful to be conformed, we all need to be faithful to allow Him to deal with us so that we can be conformed as well. I know it is easier said than done - but your testimony gives us hope and courage to go through our own chastisements and is true, His judgments do call us home where we belong!