Credit: Michael Ciaglo/AP
Now flood every portal of my mind
And flood everything I’ve tried to hide
I am looking to the sky
And I’m calling for a flood
Submerge me, Lord, in holy water
Drown me to live in You
Flood every corner of this room
And fill all the emptiness with You
Lord, we long to be consumed
And we’re calling for a flood – Calling for a Flood by John Waller
Lay me down in the waves
Let the water wash away
And if I leave with the tide
In the morning I will rise
So lay me down
Don’t lift me out
Let me drown -Let me Drown by We As Human
Have you seen the images coming out of Colorado? Do you remember Katrina? How about the Tsunami of 2004? Have you read the story of Noah in Genesis?
Floods suck. Floods are terrifying, destructive and unpredictable. They cause death and destruction and heartache. People drown. Drowning is not peaceful or pleasant.
Let me be clear, I DO NOT WANT GOD TO FLOOD ME WITH ANYTHING. I DO NOT WANT TO DROWN IN HIS LOVE or HIS MERCY or ANYTHING ELSE. Can we please stop using this imagery?
The word flood is used in the Bible 47 times. Only two of them are positive. One is in Malachi where it talks about the floodgates (think of these like the spillway doors on a dam) of heaven being opened up to pour out a blessing too big to be able to be received. The other is in Isaiah where it says, “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream”. Neither of these sounds like the life threatening floods mentioned in many worship songs. Often these songs allude to floods of love, grace or mercy sent by God that result in our death by drowning. And we sing them. Often to saccharine, lilty tunes with a peaceful feel to them. I’ve got news for you..
The word drown is found 10 times in Scripture. NONE OF THEM ARE GOOD. There is no mention of a peaceful river of blessing where Jesus lovingly holds you under until you can’t breathe. And no room, as the song above mentions, where people happily begged God to drown them in his presence like Charlie on LOST.
I know people try to make this flooding and drowning imagery about baptism. But the scriptures never teach this. In Romans 6:1-11 it says,
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Yes, we identify with the burial and resurrection of Jesus when we go down into the water and when we come out. We obviously are not literally dead, nor do any (non cult) groups advocate actual physical death in order to escape sin. The way in which we identify with his death is by recognizing that through Jesus we can be dead to sin; that is, sin has no more power over us because God is no longer holding our sins against us. No flood. No drowning.
Listen, I understand poetic license. I understand literary imagery. I understand figures of speech. I don’t expect every song (or any song for that matter) to only use words out of the 66 books of Canonized scripture. What I don’t understand are metaphors comparing what Jesus offers to death, destruction or war. Yes, I said war. One song I have heard actually says, “If you are the war then let me be your casualty.” No. No. No. JESUS IS NOT THE WAR and WE ARE NOT HIS CASUALTY. EVER. He is however, the author of life and the prince of peace. He died to absorb wrath not to bring it. He does not bring destruction he delivers us from it.
My friend from Colorado told me this morning that some people are using the recent flooding in her area of Colorado as an occasion to liken actual floods to God’s flooding us with blessings or flooding us with the spirit. Please, no. Make it stop. That kind of talk is insensitive at best. God’s blessings look nothing like a flood that has left thousands displaced, a rising death toll and more than 1,200 unaccounted for.