There’s a very old joke about a preacher and a flood.

A storm descends on a small town, and the downpour soon turns into a flood. As the waters rise, the local preacher kneels in prayer on the church porch, surrounded by water. By and by, one of the townsfolk comes up the street in a canoe.

“Better get in, Preacher. The waters are rising fast.”

“No,” says the preacher. “I have faith in the Lord. He will save me.”

Still the waters rise. Now the preacher is up on the balcony, wringing his hands in supplication, when another guy zips up in a motorboat.

“Come on, Preacher. We need to get you out of here. The levee’s gonna break any minute.”

Once again, the preacher is unmoved. “I shall remain. The Lord will see me through.”

After a while the levee breaks, and the flood rushes over the church until only the steeple remains above water. The preacher is up there, clinging to the cross, when a helicopter descends out of the clouds, and a state trooper calls down to him through a megaphone.

“Grab the ladder, Preacher. This is your last chance.”

Once again, the preacher insists the Lord will deliver him.

And, predictably, he drowns.

A pious man, the preacher goes to heaven. After a while he gets an interview with God, and he asks the Almighty, “Lord, I had unwavering faith in you. Why didn’t you deliver me from that flood?”

God shakes his head. “What did you want from me? I sent you two boats and a helicopter.”

Noting that some might say that God did deliver the preacher from the flood … after all, he wound up in Heaven …

Nonetheless, I’ve been thinking about this joke, which is really a parable, a lot lately.

Today I thank God. for the coronavirus vaccine. My mother, who is at very high risk for severe illness or death should she catch Covid-19, is now vaccinated, as am I. Many others in my family are either vaccinated, or waiting their turn, and none of us, praise God, have succumbed to this plague.

I believe that God made human intelligence because He intended us to use it in service of His will. I praise God for the well educated researchers and scientists and health care professionals who were able to develop a vaccine to protect His people against this coronavirus. I thank God for the people who manufacture and package and deliver the vaccine to those who need it, and I pray that every person in every part of the world who needs protection from this virus will soon have access to the vaccine.

I believe that God performs miracles in more than one way. In Jesus time He healed people with leperosy and blindness miraculously. Today He also heals those things miraculously, through the miracle of antibiotics that cure Hanson’s Disease (leperosy) and the miracle of cataract surgery and other medical ways of preventing and treating blindness. Those are no less miraculous than the miraculous healings that occurred in Biblical times.

Of course not all uses of science are good. But not all uses of a hammer are good either. One can use a hammer to build a house of worship, or one can use a hammer to murder innocent people. God has blessed us with much intellectual knowledge but it is still our responsibility to use that knowledge in service of God’s will and not for sinful purposes.

Today I praise God for boats and helicopters and hammers and vaccines, and pray that He give us the wisdom to use them wisely in service of His plan.

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