Wake Up Call
On Sunday afternoon, October 8, the winds howled through Sonoma and Napa Counties. The pants of PGA golfers flapped like flags as they lined up their shots at the Silverado Golf Course in Napa. Many spectators left as the wind intensified. They may have gone to bed early, but thousands of Californians would soon wake up to a nightmare scenario.
By midnight, several small fires burst into raging infernos as Diablo winds reached up to 70 mph. Telephone alerts warned residents to evacuate. Policemen drove through neighborhoods, blaring warnings through loud speakers. As one home after another burst into flames, officials pounded on front doors to awaken people and save lives.
Flaming embers were catapulted by winds like fiery arrows shot from thousands of bows. The flames jumped roads, freeways and ravines, as thousands of acres were consumed faster than a sprinter could run. As the fires raged, over 5,000 homes, many of them multimillion-dollar mansions, as well as ornate wineries, and hundreds of businesses became heaps of twisted metal and ash. The smoke from burning trees, cars, homes and brush became a dense, toxic fog which settled over Northern California.
These were the deadliest wildfires in the history of California. Forty people were burned to death, and thousands of people lost their homes. The beautiful land where I grew up has been violated. I believe these fires are part of a recent pattern of significant ecological events which give us an important message.
On August 25, Hurricane Harvey struck, and then stalled over Houston, causing the greatest flooding in the history of Texas. 84 people were killed, and billions of dollars of damage was caused in a few days. On September 10, Hurricane Irma (the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the continental United States) struck Florida, wreaking havoc on the Keys, and on millions of people as it tore up the coast. On September 20, Hurricane Maria, a high-end category 4 storm struck Puerto Rico with the strongest sustained winds ever recorded on the island. 90 people were killed and many islands devastated in the Caribbean.
Each of these climatic events was unique and stunning because of its magnitude. The fact that the events occurred one after the other is not coincidental, it’s a pattern, with a divine message. The Lord wants us to wake up. The warming of our planet should not surprise us. “The present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:7). We need to turn away from evil deeds, pride and selfishness. We need to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness.
God is not judging us as a nation, any more than the firefighters and policemen were judging the residents of Napa and Sonoma Counties when they pounded on their doors to wake them up. The wake-up calls were acts of mercy to save people who were in danger of losing not only their property, but their lives.
There have been other heartbreaking events the last few weeks. An earthquake in Mexico, a shooter in Las Vegas, and a bombing in Somalia which killed over three hundred people. We hear about evil deeds and human suffering all the time; however, there is something different about this season for our nation.
On August 17, a week before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, astronomers observed something never seen by mankind before. Two neutron stars, with the mass of the sun compressed into Chicago-sized spheres, collided with a roar. With a burst of light, and release of gravitational waves, they threw gold and platinum as heavy as the earth into space. Only God can create light and gold out of collapsed stars. Only the Lord can give us light, and enable us to hear His voice so our stumbling ways can be redeemed like gold.
God is good and His mercy endures forever. However, mercy should lead us to repentance. These are not random events, they are a wakeup call. Don’t be like a frog in a warming kettle. Wake up O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.