Southern California was hit with a seismic one-two combo, first on the 4th of July, and then a larger one the day after.
I live 80 miles south of Ridgecrest, the epicenter. Let me tell you, we were rockin’ and rollin’ at my house! Although we incurred minimal damage of a few broken figurines, our nerves were like frayed electrical cords. After the 7.1 quake hit Friday night, there were a few significant aftershocks that sent us ducking and covering immediately. When I closed my eyes to sleep that night, it seemed as though my bed was swaying like a boat in the ocean. But it was only my mind playing tricks on me.
Southern California is still experiencing multiple aftershocks daily. According to seismologists, we will likely have aftershocks for a long time to come.
But if you look closely with spiritual eyes, we see God’s hand in the midst of the worst of circumstances throughout history.
As I watched the news, praying for those hit much harder than us, I noticed telltale signs of God’s divine presence and the lessons He is hoping to teach us.
Spiritual Lessons Earthquakes Teach Us
Things of true importance become immediately clearer.
A young mother from Ridgecrest said her first reaction during the earthquake was to pick up her infant, fall to the ground, and shield him with her body.
We have read tragic stories of people who risked their lives gathering earthly possessions during a natural disaster only to lose their own life.
“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” Matthew 16:26
A disaster can serve as a barometer of what we truly hold dear.
“And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Luke 12:33-34
Things that aren’t secure can shatter in an instant.
The items that were damaged in my home during the earthquake were ones that weren’t secure. Figurines on a shelf rocked back and forth until they fell to the ground and broke.
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come, and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Matthew 7:24-27
Where do you place your security?
We Need Each Other.
Emergency first responders were a welcome sight to those who were injured or experienced damage to their property. Strangers reached out to help a frantic woman find her dog. It didn’t matter the color of her skin or who she voted for. She was another human being in need.
Hard times often reveal our innate need for community.
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
We are Not in Control.
Perhaps one of the deepest needs people have is a sense of safety, stability, and control. When disaster strikes, lack of control can lead to fear and chaos. And disasters don’t play favorites. No matter who you are, at some point, you will have trouble in this life.
God can and does use difficult events to point us to Himself—the Creator and the One in control. God’s creation is always pointing us to Him. But so often, people are wrapped up in their lives and need for control that they lose sight of God.
“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,[e]
for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.
Christ is also the head of the church,
which is his body.
He is the beginning,
supreme over all who rise from the dead.[f]
So he is first in everything.
For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.” Colossians 1:15-20
When we place our lives in the hands of the One who IS in control, we find peace. Sometimes our lives need a little “shaking up” to remind us of this fact.
Am I saying that God causes natural disasters and tragedy to teach us? Not exactly. But what I am saying is, God loves us so much that He will, can, and does use anything that He sees fit to draw us to His amazing love and grace.
People are strong-willed and stubborn, but God’s love for us is relentless.
We Need a Plan.
Human beings make plans. From parties and celebrations to education and marriage—we draft our plans. But sometimes we don’t plan for the things that matter the most.
Do you have a disaster plan in place? A disaster kit?
I’ve included a link to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Emergency supply list HERE.
More important than a disaster plan is a plan for eternity.
Do you have a plan?
We are more than physical beings. We are spiritual and were created for more than this world. The Bible tells us that “God planted eternity in the human heart” (Eccl 3:11).
The Bible also tells us that God created a way for us to live eternally with Him by sending His son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins. All we must do is admit we need Jesus, believe He alone can save us, and choose to follow Him (Romans 3:23; 5:8; 10:9).
Jesus is the only plan for eternity.
For those who have given their lives to Jesus, an event like an earthquake should quicken our desire to live as lights and representatives to a world in need of hope.
As the saying goes, you just might be the only Jesus someone has ever seen.
Here is a sobering question we must ask ourselves regularly:
Do others see Christ’s hope, peace, grace, and love in me?
The earthquakes here in SoCal have caused me to reevaluate what’s most important. My prayer is that this article will give you pause, too. For as long as we have breath in our lungs, our lives must point the One who gave it to us.
Article first appeared on Socal Christian Voice