Carl Hofmann's Reflections on Life, Spirituality, Theology...and Everything In-Between
Like many of us, I heard the news of this week's Virginia temblor with surprise: "What?" we all wondered, "an earthquake on the East Coast?!" Turns out it was the largest earthquake in more than 40 years. Added to this seismic strangeness was the unexpected rumble in our own state: southern Colorado also had a decent earthquake the same day as the Virginia shaker. Hmmm...
As I've mentioned here before, I grew up in Southern California, spent much of my young adult life in the San Francisco Bay Area, returned to greater LA for seminary, and served a church for ten years back in the Bay Area. I've felt my share of earthquakes, including some really big ones I thought were THE Big One. In our Oakland home, we had to sign papers at the purchase acknowledging we were in the "special study zone", a deceptively benign phrase meaning our home was built over a branch of the notorious Hayward Fault. Like our neighbors, we retrofitted our home to protect us in the event of a quake: we sheer-wall paneled the frame of the house in the basement, to spread out the stresses of the shaking; we also drilled and bolted the beams of the frame deep into the concrete foundation. These measures don't eliminate the risks; they merely mitigate them and give residents greater peace of mind. You see, no matter how well you prepare, earthquakes still make you feel small, vulnerable, and out of control. Usually, it's a bad feeling. There's no advance warning and there's no respecting of persons--everyone's affected.
When earthquakes hit places like Indonesia, Japan, or even the West Coast of the U.S., we feel bad for those involved, but we tend to expect these phenomena. But Virginia? Colorado? Hello?! Something about these quakes tends to get my apocalypse meter twitching...
I'm no Harold Camping, no alleged Bible prophet. Far from it. But I know enough about earthquakes in the Bible to know these key points: 1) as a metaphor, earthquakes point to the transcendent power of God, often in judgment for sin. The smallness we feel--the vulnerability induced--from earthquakes reminds us that God is in control and we are not. Earthquakes catch our attention and wake us up; God does that too. How we live matters. And being related well to God is vitally important in this; 2) Earthquakes are signs which Jesus says will accompany the end of the world, "the beginning of birth pains" for the new heaven and earth he will create. Rather than predict his timetable (a notoriously foolish thing to do), I'd rather just say, "Live in readiness." Life's not going to march on endlessly. History is not like a wheel rolling ever onward. History's headed someplace; it's heading, ultimately, to Someone.
So bolt yourself into the Foundation. Relate yourself well and deeply to the God who loves you in Christ. Trust in him and cling to him--and you'll weather whatever quakes should come.
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And don't forget to thank God for geologists!
Indeed! Thanks for stopping by, John.
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