There is nothing like epic flooding to reorder priorities. In the wake of Harvey which rushed ashore a week ago inundating Houston and South Texas has come a rush of rescue workers – some governmental, many more neighbors and strangers – whose only concern is to save lives. In the torrent of rain and swollen waterways has come a torrent of generosity as companies and individuals have redirected private resources for the public good. What has been happening in Texas is heart-breaking and heart-restoring at the same time as humans have rallied around fellow humans in crisis. As this crisis unfolded, responding to human need became a pressing priority.
The crisis will pass. Those of us who have that luxury will turn back to our regular concerns, routines and priorities. The flood waters of crisis will recede into the swamp of chronic injustices and needs and will slip lower and lower down our list of priority concerns. Of course, the same cannot be said for the victims who face months and years of putting their homes and lives back together but the sad fact is that we really don’t have to worry about that anymore and, if we’re being honest, many of us won’t. In the same way that responding to food insecurity (1 in 5 people in the state of Georgia alone doesn’t know where they will find their next meal according to the Atlanta Community Foodbank statistics) or income inequality, or racial injustice was not a priority for us before the flood.
But what if we took this as an opportunity to re-order our priorities? What if responding to human need persisted as a pressing priority for us? What if saving lives was something we cared about – and did something about (as Gandhi put it, “actions express priorities”) every single day? What if we continued to pay attention to human need and God’s mission after the cameras turn away?
John Wesley, founder of Methodism urged Christians of his time and challenges us today to “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all times you can, as long as you ever can.” I can’t think of any higher priority in life than to daily join God in God’s urgent mission to save the world. Can you?