Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Smoke on the Mountain

By Brenda Black

It was 10 years ago this summer that our family vacationed in Colorado Springs. I wrote about our trip, painting a word picture of the vast, spectacular Rockies. I tried to convey how awestricken I was and why I felt such privilege to travel winding roads through those majestic, purple mountains.

Historically, Colorado was experiencing the worst drought in a hundred years in 2002. In my eyes, she was lovely in spite of it and I captured my delight, in part, with these words: “...unbelievable, unmistakable pleasures in life are never forgotten.”

I contend those sentiments hold true today as I recall our trip up Pike's Peak and the visit to the Air Force Academy Chapel. I often go back in thought to our trek through the Aspen groves and cherish an adorable photo of our two little boys grinning atop a big red rock in the Garden of the Gods. I smile when I remember the crisp air, the amazing sun rises, the sound of the trees' leaves fluttering on Colorado breezes. With eyes closed, I can be there in an instant – ten years younger, relaxed and grateful for such a treasure.

Now, as I view video news clips of the horrific firestorms ravaging such a beloved and beautiful part of our country, my heart breaks for the charred land, the displaced and threatened wildlife and for the great people of the Centennial State and neighboring states along the Continental Divide. This time, it is not pleasure, but the unplanned, unbelievable, unmistakable pains in life that will not soon be forgotten. My prayers back then were ones of pure appreciation. My prayers now are pleading for God's intervention. Send the rain, calm the wind, cool the air and spare beautiful Colorado.

Certainly, new growth will rise from the ashes as it has before. But not soon enough, I fear, for those who are in the midst of this roaring red monster that is gulping up green and pristine and spewing out thick, choking smoke that blackens the skies as well as the slopes.

While fires engulf the Northwest and floods and tropical storms deluge the Southeast, drought spreads across our middle and we are each in the midst of desperate straits. Still, we bear with one another the burdens throughout this great country. We go. We help. And if we stay put, we pray.

And God waits. He waits for his people to cry out to Him, trust Him, turn to Him, love Him -- no matter our conditions. For He is able to see us through all trials, even if the circumstances seem overwhelming. It may seem hard to comprehend why He allows the earth to rebel so violently. Yet, we must remember that part of her rebellion is because she groans and longs for the Lord's returning. In the beginning she was perfect. The world of humanity is not the only one who reaped the cursing as a result of sin. The earth paid a high price as well. Storms and fire and ice; floods and drought and pestilence were not part of the original plan. Adam had never pulled a weed. Noah had never seen rain. That is, until sin robbed man and all of creation of its peace and perfection.

The Lord has since that time been at work redeeming. And He will do it again. When the rains come and the winds die down and the fire is snuffed out with no flicker of a threat remaining, then the earth will spring to life again. God does such a work in the heart of mankind and He reveals His touch in all of nature in due time.

So we hope and we pray and we work till He comes again. We believe in His goodness and protection. We trust that He knows best. We accept that He weeps with those who grieve and comforts those who endure loss. God is good all the time. Even in the midst of flaming tongues of fire. And sometimes...sometimes God shows up right in the middle of the heat and takes us higher: in a burning bush (Exodus 3:2), in a fiery furnace (Daniel 3:25), in a Holy Spirit baptism (Luke 3:16).

I'm praying that the people of Colorado cling to such truth and find God willing and able to rescue them from every fiery threat they'll ever face in life. I'm praying that no matter where we live, the rest of us seek such peace too.

“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy...” (Jude 20-23)  

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