If you've looked at the news in the last two weeks, besides Putin, Syria, Obamacare's deadline, the missing Malaysian jet and ocean full of garbage, the horrific mudslide in Washington, the Twitter campaign for #CancelColbert, and other important items, you may have noticed that California's earthquake "drought" is over. If only it were the water drought that's over. In all fairness, it's better to have several smaller earthquakes to release pressure than to have it all pop at once. Even so...
|I'm sure there's some post-modern theory as to why |
humans created a theme park ride about "The Big One."
(Universal Studios "Earthquake!" ride)
The three moderate earthquakes of the last 2 weeks are more than enough for yours truly. There is something surreal and wrong about the earth and the building you're in moving under your feet. The violent shaking, creaking, swinging, rumbling is the most horrific experience of my life, other than my own parents' deaths. I'm not exaggerating. I know these quakes have been relatively small, compared to the Northridge temblor and other more devastating quakes, but it seems that I am an earthquake wimp.
Dude. Why do I live in SoCal?
Oh yeah, it's cause the Spirit led me here, I cannot tolerate cold, and I love having spring in February. Also, palm trees, mountains, ocean, sunshine, absence of salt damage on my car.
But as always, I look at the events of life through a lens that asks "What can I learn from this?"
Apart from my roommate and I getting serious about creating an earthquake kit (she's from Toronto, so she understands this panic-stricken response), there is another word that describes my immediate reaction to an earthquake in progress: Powerlessness.
I actually went on that Earthquake ride back in '91 at Universal Studios, Fla. I hated every second. I had a massive panic attack, the likes of which I'd never known. I literally had to close my eyes and focus on breathing until it was over. Then, outside in the humid Orlando sun, I told my friends I just needed to sit for a good 30 minutes to recover. They thought I was nuts.
In the real thing, I'm almost as panicked. My palms go sweaty, the blood drains (to where, I have no idea), the breaths become short, the knees turn to water.
What's happening is a classic panic response. Why? Because 1.) This is really a new thing for me and my brain doesn't know how to process it, and 2.) I, and everyone else affected, am totally powerless to do anything but ride it out (no pun intended).
In an earthquake, you are literally trapped by the earth. You cannot escape. You cannot make it stop. You have no idea when it will end. You have no idea if it will get stronger before it stops. You. Are. Powerless.
Isn't this really a metaphor for our lives? Yes, we can certainly take measures to do what we're supposed to do -- stock up on water, flashlights, and food/drop and cover/get a job/get married/make informed decisions based on the information at hand -- but we really have no idea what's coming, and when it hits, we feel like we have no recourse. A spouse leaves, a parent dies, a lay off happens, a debilitating accident happens... on and on; you can fill in the blanks, can't you?
So what do we do when things surprise us, bad things, horrific things? I don't have all the answers. The only answer I have is to cling to the One who can help me sort it out, make the best of it, and who ultimately has me in His Hand. I pray mightily to trust God, and I ask Him to help me through the aftermath.
During Lent, we're asked to go inward, to examine our consciences, repent, deny certain aspects of the outward life that may be distracting us from what's calling to us deep inside - the pure Love of God. Giving our powerlessness to Him, as Jesus did on the cross, is not only "good" for us, but it is a mark of our deep, abiding love for Him. It's a gift, in other words. God thirsts for our love, for our trust.
In the moments of powerlessness, Jesus gives us opportunities to lean on Him, trust Him, and love Him. By riding through the dark nights, trusting that He has never and will never abandon us, we will grow in love, and with grace, we will be able to share that love with His people, our brothers and sisters who are also suffering in their powerlessness.