By Colin Griffiths
This is Wednesday morning and there is smoke in the air again. The fires have come pretty close to people who are really important to me. My niece was on evacuation standby for a week and she had to make some tough decisions about what is really important. That really got me thinking. What would I take? what would I leave?
Then there are friends in Angwin California who had to evacuate because of the fire. The horrible feeling of possibly losing everything is very real for them and the fires continue to burn as I write this.
All this brings back memories of being woken up at around 1:00am at college to be told the mountain behind the campus was on fire and we needed to get up the mountain ASAP. That was a really long night. My roommate and I were runners – running from one fire fighting group to another, carrying water and other supplies, all on the top of a mountain surrounded by smoke that made it hard to breathe. The only time you could see was when a dry tree lit up like a candle.
It was organized and chaotic all at once; the adrenalin was pumping; trees went up in flames right close to us. It was amazing to see and terribly destructive at the same time. After a while the smoke was so dense it was hard to see and hard to breathe but there was no chance to rest. We were praying for a break and energy not to need a break at the same time.
Our experience lasted about 12 hours. There was extensive damage to the vegetation, but no property damage and the only injury was one person being bitten by a snake. Thankfully he got immediate treatment and recovered. We went to the chapel later that day and told stories of how we experienced God’s presence. Some said it was so intense that they didn’t really have time to think of where God was or what God was doing. Others spoke of desperate, whispered prayers “God keep me going I can’t let the people around me down.” Still others spoke of experiencing God in tangible ways.
There was a common thread though. We were all amazed at the extra energy and resilience we had and as we talked about it we agreed that God came through in the craziness, heat, and noise.
Whatever you are facing this week please be assured of God’s deep compassion for your circumstances too. I really like Philippians 4:6,7 in the The Message paraphrase: “Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”
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