The sound was deafening and it seemed like a train was smashing through the walls combined with a powerful waterfall of crystals and glass raining down from a supernatural waterfall. Their bodies would rise and flail and toss and bleed.
My best friend set the alarm for 5:00 AM so that we could get up to the slopes when they opened. Amy and I were sound asleep in her bedroom when it hit just half an hour before the alarm was meant to go off. Seniors in high school, we had been looking forward to the three day weekend and a day of skiing with friends. But nothing could have prepared us for what we were about to experience. The Northridge earthquake would have the fastest peak ground velocity ever recorded, and the epicenter was just a few blocks away from my house. 87,000 people were killed or injured as a result of 20 seconds of terror.
My parents and brother were at our house, just a 20 minute drive away from Amy’s house where I was staying the night. The earthquake surged with a violence that is indescribable. Amy screamed for me to get under the bed and we both huddled there while our world shook. When it ended, we walked trembling to the kitchen where her father was already in rescue mode and trying to survey the damage. After 10 to 15 minutes passed, I asked to use their phone to call my house, unaware that exactly where I grew up is where the worst of the havoc had hit. A breathless and panicked voice answered. My father could barely speak but what he was able to tell me was that there was massive destruction to our home. Amy’s family quickly began to gather whatever they could to go and help.
It turns out that my family had fled the house among massive flooding, and destruction, cutting their feet to shreds on glass and stood trembling in scanty pajamas on the front lawn with other shocked neighbors. My dad had dashed inside to try and find some shoes or clothes fearing that another magnitude 6 or greater aftershock could come at any moment as they had been experiencing in the minutes after the initial jolt. That was when the phone rang and I miraculously was able to speak to him for that brief moment.
We lost almost everything inside our home in the Northridge earthquake. We had only a few intact dishes left, and not much else. Our home looked as if someone had taken it, turned it upside down for a good shaking, and then set it back down. We would never be the same again. The tragedy of the day did not cause us to question God’s goodness. It caused us to renew our awe in a holy God who sheltered us then, and shelters us now.
Now, when I read the description of Psalm 46, I can vividly understand the kind of turmoil that is being described, and I am equally amazed at what God asks of us in the midst of this kind of power.
1God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.c
4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shieldsd with fire.
10He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
You may not have experienced the physical shaking of the world around you coming undone. But you may be experiencing a personal kind of catastrophe.
What is so incredibly comforting is the truth of verse 10 when in the midst of chaos all around God tells us to “Be still, and know that I am God”. When the earthquake hit, we really had no other choice. His might was on great display. The last thought was to question Him or protest His motives. All we could do was gape and remain still in the upheaval. The humility that resulted from that day has been impressed on me for a lifetime. I witnessed that God is God and I am not. He was in control that day, and every day.
That is just as true in the outer realm as it is in the Spiritual realm of my life. There is a lot of topsy turvy going on in my personal world right now and at times it could be overwhelming. I think that is where God wants me-to realize that circumstances are so beyond my ability to control that my only option is to throw myself to the floor, be still, and know that He is God. Let Him do His thing. Ride the waves as they come-world tossing, all things flailing, and me there, being still. It’s a paradox. Being still when the earth is giving way.
The lesson for me is that when my circumstances come crashing with a force that I cannot withstand on my own, it’s not the time to try and solve anything or figure it out. It’s time to be still, to realize that the only thing-the best thing-that I can do is look up and know that He is God. It’s a reminder of what life is all about. There is great benefit in knowing that all things are about God, not me. And He is with me, my fortress. The source of the earthquake has me in His hands, and I can rest. His will for me in those moments is to know. To know that He is God.
YOUR TURN! Is God revealing to you that you need to let go and be still? Do you trust that such a powerful God is not to be feared because He is your fortress in the storm? If this post blessed you, please SHARE it with others. I love to hear from you!!
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory. Psalm 115:1
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