The Parable of the Flood

A man was trapped in his house during a flood. He began praying to God to rescue him. He had a vision in his head of God’s hand reaching down from heaven and lifting him to safety. The water started to rise in his house. His neighbour urged him to leave and offered him a ride to safety. The man yelled back, “I am waiting for God to save me.” The neighbour drove off in his pick-up truck.


The man continued to pray and hold on to his vision. As the water began rising in his house, he had to climb up to the roof. A boat came by with some people heading for safe ground. They yelled at the man to grab a rope they were ready to throw and take him to safety. He told them that he was waiting for God to save him. They shook their heads and moved on.

The man continued to pray, believing with all his heart that he would be saved by God. The flood waters continued to rise. A helicopter flew by and a voice came over a loudspeaker offering to lower a ladder and take him off the roof. The man waved the helicopter away, shouting back that he was waiting for God to save him. The helicopter left. The flooding water came over the roof and caught him up and swept him away. He drowned.

When he reached heaven and asked, “God, why did you not save me? I believed in you with all my heart. Why did you let me drown?” God replied, “I sent you a pick-up truck, a boat and a helicopter and you refused all of them. What else could I possibly do for you?”

64 thoughts on “The Parable of the Flood”

  1. Good point, Mark.

    Martin Luther said

    All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desired, although not in the hour or in the measure, or the very thing which they ask. Yet they will obtain something greater and more glorious than they had dared to ask.

      1. Yes that is exactly right sometimes the answer is no
        But not because he’s a greedy lord r controlling God but because he knows the plans he has for you
        And even though that thing may seem good to you through your r human eyes God sees eternally
        And then there are times the answer is not now either way Trust but n the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding

      2. In this case and so many others, God’s answer was not “no.” He had given each of us so many gifts necessary to save ourselves. In that way God saved us but only if we bothered to see and listen. There won’t be a mighty hand reaching down from heaven.

  2. “Well God being all powerful could have simply picked him up and carried him to safety. .”

    Yeah God could have done this, the question however is wether God is obliged to or required to given his nature to do so, even when a person refuses to take reasonable steps themselves. There seems to be a kind of immaturity in some people towards God whereby they refuse to be sensible or responsible and blame God for not intervening.

    “But then God today does not do the big miracles that the God of the Old Testament used to do.”

    I think this misreads the old testament, God does not typically do miracles in the old testament. There are some miraclous events around the exodus plaques( though much of this could be simply natural phenomena) and some around the time of Elijah, but apart from that the old testament has God working through the normal processes of history without miraculous intervention. The new testament records Miracles to authenticate the person of Jesus and the authority of the apostles but does not suggest this is typical or normal, in fact the whole point is its extra oridinary.

    1. GOD has always performed miracles from Genesis to Revelations and even to this present day GOD is performing miracles. The question is do we acknowledge them or do we write them off. Examine your own life and see how you got to where you are did you do it or did GOD miraculously intervened. When I was about eleven years old some friends and I was racing on bikes mines did not have brakes and the road we were on was known for cars not stopping and running into the ditch on the other side of the road. a friend of ours was paralyzed and his brother killed in this ditch because a car couldn’t stop and landed on top of them. anyway we were racing and I saw this car approaching and because I did not have brakes I could not stop in time I closed my eyes embraced for the impact and cried out to my mom and dad for help and when I opened my eyes I was on the other side of the car and the only explanation I can come up with is GOD DID IT. ALL PRAISES BELONG TO HIM

      1. Hey Antonio, I have heard of others experiencing miracles, where they have given praise to God for His Grace given, and rightly so!

        In keeping an otherwise long testimony short, …my Wife had a similar act of God’s Grace bestowed on her.
        My wife was driving her car, and she had an imminent unavoidable head on collision about to impact on her, and she had nowhere to go, but in the blink of an eye the car directly in front of her was now behind her.
        As Christians there is no other answer, outside of Praise and thanksgiving toward the glorifying of our Father God, in appreciation for a miracle in this act of Grace by the Great “I Am” as He is described in His WORD! …and His power to Save!
        To those that earnestly seek the Saving Grace of Jesus,
        He will personally meet you where you are at and reveal Himself to you …and then By God’s Grace, you will be Born Again!
        My time came, after deciples of Christ, jointly prayed that Jesus would reveal Himself to me if I genuinely seeked after Him; (for me, that was 3 weeks later)
        …and I give thanks!

  3. Thank you Matt for doing ‘Eternal Vigilance’ the honor of your Contribution. I hope you find our conversations here worthy of your input. Of course that would necessitate you bring your sword and shied, your longsuffering and your Magnanimity… a soft heart and an open ear, because there surely will be gauntlets thrown… and I hope that we in return can supply you with some ‘Tangential assaults’ by which you may hone your War craft.
    I have already made use of your Comment here on another thread.
    It is on this point:
    Why do you feel the need to reduce the Miracles Moses wrought before Pharaoh down to mere natural phenomena?
    I see this as a typical compromise/ retreat from true theism towards atheist Naturalism.

  4. Why should God reach down His hand in such a dramatic manner to rescue the man? There were three other means of rescue sent from God. It is our privilege to be His hands. God directs us to search out and rescue in His behalf. Why should God personally rescue us as the man on the roof desired? His pride prevented him. Why could he not see God’s hand in those mortal hands that were offered? God rescues us all the time. It is our responsibility to see those miracles in the making. God is all powerful and all knowing. It’s trusting Him that is our task. He knows best.

  5. “God only helps those who help themselves”, is what I have heard since I was a little girl! I am a senior lady NOW…and over my last 62 years, I have learned that you have to meet God half way…you have to DO your part!

    IF we leave it ALL to GOD…what kind of character does that instill in US? And, that is what this parable is demonstrating! God sent help…but, they guy was expecting God to do it ALL, by reaching his hand down & plucking the guy off the roof! The guy didn’t even TRY to save himself! That wasn’t FAITH in God, the guy was being LAZY and expecting MORE from God than what he was willing to give of himself! He was testing God.

  6. I think the issue is laid out at the very beginning. It was the drowning man who created the vision of how God would rescue him and blinded himself to any other means of salvation. He presumed to know or perhaps dictate how God should work, thereby unwittingly rendering God his servant and then dared question why He failed to serve him as he required.

  7. Bingo. A common way of thinking among atheists because everybody knows that if there was really a God, He would do things the way they would and since He doesn’t, He couldn’t possibly exist.

    1. I wouldn’t address this message specificaly to the athesit. It could refer to anyone at anytime. Obviously, the man who drowned in this stroy was a christian or shall we say ‘believer.’ One in the faith. I hear or see atheist, but it would be more worth our while to think religious ‘Pharisee or Scribe’. The man in the story continued to ” pray believing he would be saved by God.” I also read in this story religious folk doing fancy or great things for God! Maybe. But Be faithful in the everday things of life. Daily bread lessons. Be faithful in the needs-wants of today. If teaching a ragged class is your lot do so and persevere, or Grace be with You. . Let mercy do the rest. Sometimes, everyday joys are missed in life because grandiose believers are dreaming ‘pie in the sky’ when God directs by scripture “the meek will inherit the earth.” It is possible to have plans T/o-o/ small. I think moreoften, we get into trouble with plans too BIg for the occasion or the occasion merits. Too big for our britches if you will. Saul tried to put on a armament for David to prepare hime in his battle with Goliath. David would have none of it. The ‘clothes’ didn’t fit him. Careful. Today, people have all kinds of ‘righteous garment’ they offer to sell or give as special for us only. Unrighteous leaven. Third, I see or hear christians saying they are just stuck in the mud in life. Depressed. Lost. Anxious. Hoding on, yes, but at a time when they OUGHT TO BE LETTING GO! Letting go and letting God. I think the axiom befitting. And I do empathize. I don’t consider myself higher than a felon, but not lower than a disciple. At times, I find these doldrum states of mind are self- made prisons. Too much bitterness, resentment, pride and self pity. etc. Don’t get me wrong. I empathize with anyone who feels sorrow. God has shown us brother or sister a better way. But we keep insisting on going back to the old ways, like, working a rusty pump at an old farm house thinking we’ll draw out cold water! Try as we may at best you’ll find trickles. The deeper thirst remains. God has provided us outlets and safety routes and salvation and security, waterfalls of it, but we are a little too deaf and blind to see it. The man in the story suffered from a ‘terminal’ blindness condition. Lord heal my eyes! We deny or refuse Spirit for our own way. I don’t speak to the atheist or unbeliever. I have more empathy or compassion for their ignorance or likely arrogance.

  8. To Maria C. your comment shows that you are actually pretty ignorant of common atheists philosophy, my guess is either you dod not know any or you have never really had a conversation with the ones you do know. Most atheists actually really dig this parable because it shows the necessity of man relying upon his fellow man for support and or salvation.The idea of the existence of this existential divine force who watches over us all is actually an indication of a lazy mind. One does not need to find answers for oneself since God is of course the source of all. Atheists dont want God do do things the way we want, we want people to stop crediting God for things good or ill that are basically either random chance or a self created situation.

    1. I am a believer, and proud to be an educator in Public School, until, I couldn’t do it any longer. Teaching, no easy gig these days. But I see your response; very reasonable and with a measure of compassion, which, is far better than any
      of my false pride in ‘civility, morality or ‘legality.’ Three impostors thinking of themselves much more highly than reason suggests. They are shadows not the light. They are the thorn and thistle not the fruit of the tree. Their roots are twisted and their fruit is rotten. In the Story Pilgrim Progress, the worst judgment of all was afforded or reserved for that smarmy character “Turn Away.” He turned a blind eye, contemptuous to all suffering, and perhaps made a profit of other peoples pain. We may not see eye to eye, in matters of religion or irreligion, but I have, ahem, some basis we could work together on a matter without being disagreeable. Maybe asily. Atheist and christian. Consider Drs. without Borders per example? A lofty example. People of various faiths, or no faith, and of varied ethnicity, nation, and background working together. They share a common good, at times in arenas dangerous and most unsightly, to relieve suffering and sorrow in places all over the world. Compassion has no borders. God motto. They demonstrate. Of course, today, we might think of Syria, and our hearts broken for refugees in turmoil. Poison stream runs through cities. Some might criuticize, Ken, your message is a “Social Gospel.” so be it. Guilty. The Greatest teacher I see offered only 2 commandments. ‘Love God, and the second was LIKE the first, love one another.” When this ‘command’ is working creatively in our lives, we have fulfilled ALL moral laws and entered into all Spiritual realms. But just as there is a ‘natural evoultuion’ of things, of life, there is also a spiritual evoultion to all of life. So the love I feel or express today, might progress, or should progress as a believer, in good time. Hm. I know there are some who might contest we have ‘devolved” in the spirit of things. IF God IS, I have little difficulty offering much credit! And I will. But as we look around the state of life, with terrible woner, mot awesome, I commiserate, as I might be tempted to ask, ” God art thou blind, why make us, or why make us thus? “

    2. God is everywhere and in everything. When a voice spoke into “nothingness” and the vibration went in every direction it all carried the substance of the beginning, consequently, rendering The Created Force everywhere. This isn’t about an atheist belief
      … it’s about irresponsible people that won’t take hold of reality. Man is a piece of Creation wiped clean of the infinite knowledge and replaced with perception to solidify his individual being. There are stages to life but some people never excel in knowledge because of their stagnated perception: that’s what this is about! God is everything…. human’s are good and bad, happy and sad, not God! How can The Creator be subject to the weaker elements??? Open your eyes and praise God and pray for strength to step out of your own belief and empathize!

  9. Now for something completely different. I think God actually did save the drowning man after all; how much better then being with God in heaven.

    When I first became a christian my preacher shared this story with us. I was single and wanted to have a girlfriend so I prayed that God would deliver a woman to my front door. I did this every night for a few weeks. One day a storm came up, it was poring rain down so hard, couldn’t even see across the street. The roar and thunder drowned out the sound from my radio. While peering out the window aghast at the storms fury there was frantic pounding on my door. As I opened it up two attractive women burst in with armfuls of groceries. They looked at me and then at each other and we all started laughing. They were coming back from the store and mistook my house for the one next door. I will never forget God’s impeccable sense of humor. Not only did he answer my prayer but doubled it just to make sure.

    This is great, lets go again. Thinking of my past dating experience I put together a list of the best qualities of every girl I had dated and generated a composite of the perfect woman for me. Yep, I was all in this time, I had thought of everything. I prayed for a long time but eventually gave up.
    One day at church in bible class we met, although I didn’t know it at first. She was so beautiful I didn’t think she’d ever date the likes of me. We glanced at each other, I asked her out, I was throttled when she said yes. It wasn’t until the third or forth date I realized she was exactly the person I had prayed about months ago. Eventually we started making plans, were we’d like to live, so happily ever after.
    She had this daughter in joint custody who was spoiled and playing both parents against each other. The drama continued to escalate until it became dangerous for me. That was the end. To this day I truly love her but know it is not meant to be. Better to have love and lost . . . I learned an important lesson, too.

    Now days I still pray but I lift those wants and needs up to the Lord. I ask for His guidance and direction. I ask if it is in His will for me to have this or that. That He might bless me with His infinite wisdom in making decisions. I pray the things I do will glorify Him. I love God, He is full of surprises. This is so much better then I could ever dream. The moral of the story is be careful what you pray for, you might just get it.

  10. An omniscient god would have known that the man would refuse help from the pick-up truck, the boat, and the helicopter. Why would an omniscient god send methods or rescue he knew in advance would be rejected?

    The god of this parable would have known what form of rescue the trapped man would require to believe that the rescuer was god or a representative of. But he chooses to not send that form of rescue and to send three rescuers he knows will be rejected.

    It seems the god of this story had no intention of saving the trapped man but instead was looking for an ‘I told you so’ moment when the man eventually made it to heaven.

    Am I really expected to believe an omniscient being capable of literally anything would behave in such a manner?

    1. “But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ “But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

      Some people will refuse rescue no matter what.

    2. Mr Oz, great question, lets extend your rationale beyond the scope of this example shall we? If God only provides scenarios where we go to heaven (the alternative to what God does in this story) we can say God should make it so everyone should go to heaven (regardless of their choices, as we all have free will). I would rightly assume this is a God you would not question – correct? I suppose you always choose the scenario where we don’t have a choice.

      So no rules, everyone goes to Heaven, what is the point? I hope I don’t need to explain why having rules or some code to live by matters or is intrinsic to mankind and community, I don’t even need a theological basis to make that statement, I’ll give you a hint though, it’s why no matter what society you’re living in now is either protected by some sort of law enforcement either literal and/or notional and its why you’re living in peace or in a country trying to achieve peace.

      If it isn’t clear to you yet, what I’m saying is when you think about why you’re questioning God in this scenario it doesn’t make sense, practically or theoretically.

    3. We are set apart from animals with an independent will. WE get to choose…but only during this short life (a vapor) in eternity.

      “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
      ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

  11. The GOD of creation is the same then and now. His method of operation is with man and not despite him. He does not cross a persons free will / choice. You say did he know of course he did. The problem is never with GOD but with our ability to recognize him. By your words you see GOD as small and lacking in some way. But HE is completely the opposite. His love is so vast this even knowing we will fail HE loves us any way. This HE does through JESUS and the cross . And not us on our own efforts. HE warns us , sends help and direction all the while loving us.And we refuse it, and turn our backs and when all falls apart we blame him! We know him not! HE LOVES US ANY WAY. BUT HIS STANDARDS HE WILL NOT DECREASE. HIS way is still best. Call on JESUS NOW ! HE WILL NOW SAVE Y-O-U !.The and problem is not GOD but the understood YOU and I!!!!

  12. God works mostly through his people or representatives. He did rain manna from Heaven as this has a great symbolic value and message; today he will send someone with money or food for you. This is not because HE ran out of power or resources but that is the way HE operates. He will rain meat and bread from Heaven if HE does not find His representative in that place. God is Community of Father/Son/Holy Spirit and HE works and wishes us to work as communities. The Good Samaritan story is all about helping the neighbour and accepting all help needed as coming from HIM. HE has placed neighbours to help and all we need to do is love God and our neighbour.

  13. I am Catholic but i find this parable nice, God is all powerful and he shall help you but not do everything for you because he loves you, he shall make you everytime more strong, but remember that there also exists a devil that can destory you.

  14. I believe all of the comments have illustrated quite clearly their opinions on the specifics of the parable. But the key word here is “parable” – definition: ‘a short allegorical story used to illustrate some truth or lesson. To convey a meaning indirectly by the use of an analogy.’
    Since this parable was posted in Jan 2012, three years into the disaster that is Obama, I believe that Richard was telling us that in spite of all of the warnings and evidence of the inevitable coming of this disaster, it was grossly overlooked by an electorate which didn’t “pay attention”. And eleven months after this blog, the same electorate still wasn’t paying attention; they re-elected the extant disaster for another 4-year encore. Let’s not make the same mistake in 2016.

    1. I feel sorry & will also pray for you, PanamaRod. It sounded like you have been stuck with a pair of politicised glasses which gave you such narrow insights. I don’t think you are aware that your mindset is not much different to the person on the roof. He could only see the flooding disaster & pray to God to stop it rather than trust the common sense of self-responsibility that God gives us in dealing with the situation. That subsequently lead to his blaming & disappointment towards God. Likewise, your view was fixed on your local country’s political vulnerability & personal safety only & lost sight of the overall moral of the story. Even in political sense, you didn’t seem to see the worldwide problems & complications in religious conflicts, which lead you to simply put the blame on the Government you did’t trust. It’s now widely agreed that whoever is in government (left wing or right wing) & whichever country that’s in, he/she will be faced with immense international problems that only God knows how best to deal with & what will ultimately pan out. Best is not to mix God with politics or use Bilical truth to justify political views.

  15. The story of the truck, boat, and helicopter is very similar to the temptation of Jesus by the devil (eg see Luke 4:9-12). The man is this story intentionally put himself in danger to see how God would deliver him. When Jesus was confronted with a similar situation, quoting Duet 6:16 he told the devil “you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”

  16. The Bible says faith without works is dead. In to many issues we get ourselves in and turn around and want GOD to save us quickly. Life is not only about believing in GOD but action on GOD. GOD help ua in so many ways that we don’t never see.

  17. A reasonable man was trapped in a flood and was forced to climb up on his roof. A little while later a neighbor can by in a canoe. The reasonable man got in the canoe and was taken to safety.

  18. This story comes solely from man’s wisdom, which is truly nothing compared with God’s wisdom. It tries to spread the false message that there is no point putting your trust in God, because ultimately it is only man who can save you. It even says that God himself uses only man’s methods of salvation. You will find only the opposite of this foolish notion in Scripture, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” Psalm 118:8
    For example, some Christians will say that God chooses to heal through doctors, and mutter a prayer with a pretence of trust in the Lord of Creation – like guidance for the hands of a surgeon. This story is no more than an expression of idolatry.
    What we need far more than saving back into this brief life, is saving into an eternal and indestructible life with our loving God.

  19. I’m am literally amazed at how many of you want GOD to violate Nature for insolence! What some of your comments prove, is immature thinking, lack of understanding, and the multiplicity of GOD’S ability to answer, even when you want a different outcome! Brotes and sisters let’s mature in our understanding of the scriptures, and application of the word of GOD.

  20. This is a beautiful story.
    God is not a physical being who lives up in the clouds. It cannot take a physical form because human bodies decay. Suggesting that on omnipresent being can take a physical form seems oximoronic. You’re never going to see a giant hand reach down from the sky because the atmosphere of the earth would burn the flesh right off.

  21. It’s interesting how Joel Osteen used this little story in sermon, and now, a lot of Christian websites are repeating it. Where did he get it from? Well, I doubt even Joel knows. This is a version of an old Islamic folktale, originally credited to the Sufi, Mullah Nasruddin. It can also be found in Hindu culture because they were ruled by the Moguls. Nothing about it is Christian. It did get reprinted in some New Age sources in the 20th century, which might be where Joel got it, since he likes Napoleon Hill and those of that ilk.
    But, by all means, go ahead and debate its fine, Christian points. It’s entertaining when so many display their ignorance.

  22. Everything has its own purpose and time. We all must grow as we live. Some can’t pass their stage of perception but still have their purpose. If it had not been for the guy on the roof we wouldn’t have this story… therefore, I thank him because he showed me that I’ve got to get a tighter grip on reality and the person that wrote it made me realize how I’ve got to hold on to my faith in God because people will unconsciously try to rob me of my peace!! I thank God for it all! But I do get the point!

  23. I think everyone misunderstands how the lord our God works…on human levels when we need a job,  we go apply for jobs? When we pray, it’s no different,  we pray for help, were sent help by gods way…a doctor, a donation, a friends referal somewhere….if god just had CEO John goodman call you and offer you a job,  as human nature “parable of the frog and scorpion” we would never appreciate what god gives us…

    With this story had the man took it as god answering his prayer by getting in the motor boat (assuming your smart enough to think hmm another boat, obviously god is sending help) he might have lived on, still faithfully serving our lord.

  24. So this thread has been up for years, just came across it my self just now.
    Though i would make two observations one simple and funny the other more deep

    First the definition of a parable is as follows
    a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels.
    synonyms: allegory, moral story/tale, fable, exemplum
    “the parable of the prodigal son”

    So if the operative portion in the definition is “as told by Jesus in the Gospels” i would look for a Delorian Time machine instead of the pickup ride the first guy offered the guy, let alone the helicopter.

    The second thing is more deep to the effect of what I believe someone was getting at when they came up with this semi old chestnut; which is, not to expect miracles in this world to be overt as the one poster mentioned that miracles are not as showy as they were in the old testament. He doesn’t say why though which is as important as the answer. The reason why is we live in a world of grace or a period where we have to choose to believe or not based on something inside us. If miracles overtly happened everyday in a way that we know God exists then there would be no grace or rather the oppertunity for you to come to the decision on your own. In another way if you knew God exists you would come to some false sense of a reason to follow God out of fear of retribution or the construct of politeness which isn’t always true as a representative feeling toward someone or any other reason your mind will tell it self. That is the reason for grace. I have a friend that doesn’t get this along with other things so I figure others don’t as well.

  25. I believe the meaning here is that God helps those who help themselves. He sent many people to help him and he refused Gods help, not recognizing that they were sent by GOD! sometimes people take things too literally! the hand of God will not come out of nowhere and scoop you up…he wants to see you help yourself with the guidance from Him. He is the Father and wants to see you succeed! To do all things thru Him, With Him and in Him just not by Him alone.

  26. Phhtt It is a JOKE or maybe a parable of sorts.
    It is really simple, if you have faith in God don’t refuse the people who want to help you, He may have sent them.

    Remember the Good Samaratin, do you think the Jew wasn’t praying to God for help?

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