In the early 1940’s, a town in northern Tennessee was intentionally flooded by the Army Corp of Engineers. People were given warning, but the time frame wasn’t long for them to pack up and move to higher ground. A power-generating dam was built, Willow Grove, Tennessee, was evacuated, and a lake now called Dale Hollow was formed. It is a beautiful lake with over 50 miles of surface water today. As I thought about this moment in history, I was reminded of God’s work in our lives.
I’m sure the citizens of a quaint little Appalachian Valley were quite independent. Like any other community, they knew how to get along in life. Under the waters of Dale Hollow are foundations where churches once stood. Farm fields that bore crops for keeping people well-fed were plots where horses would never work again. Even grave markers can be found during scuba expeditions when diving from the surface. They lived, gathered, and worshipped. They even knew what to do when a loved one passed away. I’m sure you and I could live well in a place like Willow Grove.
An intentional flood is something we need to consider today. It too involves creating a power-generating resource. Water is almost always a symbol of God’s power active in our world throughout Scripture. Floods, waves, and rivers are reminders of the Spirit’s ability to dominate, transform, and alter the earth as well as lives. Like water, the Holy Spirit goes where he wants to go. Being the very essence of God, the Spirit of the Lord has the power to do what he wants to do. The thing he would like to do most is flood over us and fill us with his power so that everything eternally changes for our lives in heaven and even today.
Even though the historical record tells us Willow Grove citizens were not thrilled about their town being buried under water, we have the opportunity to be intentional about God’s Spirit working in our lives. Even though the Holy Spirit came our way on Pentecost, we need to remember to be responsive to his work every day. Pray that he will do a new work in your life today, and that he will completely change you inside and out. Pray that you will have his mind and heart. Pray that you will operate in his power and not your own today. Pray that his presence will flood over you like only he can.
Come Holy Spirit, I need you. Come, sweet Spirit, I pray. Come in your strength and your power. Come in your own special way! (Lyrics from “Come Holy Spirit.”)
Jim Dunn is executive director of Church Multiplication and Discipleship for The Wesleyan Church.
Photo by Brian Stansberry