Rather unexpectedly, we had a real jolt of an earthquake today (I suppose that all earthquakes come unexpectedly – as there is no precise way to predict when they will take place, and how severe they will be).
Earthquakes should be old hat to me, since I was born and raised in California, and I’ve experienced my fair share of them over the course of my lifetime. However, the one today rattled me quite a bit, because it was a jolt. I mean that quite literally – it felt like someone picked up my apartment building and then dropped it to the floor. The building rocked.
While this isn’t always the case, I sometimes feel that earthquakes are important reminders that God is on the move and that – compared to His power – we can do nothing. I mean, think about it: despite all of our technological advances and education, what can we do to stop an earthquake from taking place? Absolutely nothing.
This verse from the book of Acts comes to mind:
I choose to look at today’s event through a positive lens, even though I was literally rattled for awhile afterward (and I’m a terrible Californian! I always forget to duck, cover, and hold on to something sturdy. Today, I stayed put on my bed and did not move an inch when the tremors began. Not a good strategy where earthquakes are concerned!).
Anyway, in this story in the book of Acts, the earthquake was a dramatic and miraculous event that destroyed something negative (the prison) and brought about something positive (freedom for the wrongfully-accused apostles). If you are familiar with the story – and if not, take a glance at Acts 16, so you better understand the context – Paul and Silas stayed where they were. They could have easily fled the scene, but they did not (and neither did the other prisoners, which is yet another miracle!). Instead, they remained where they were, and got to witness a surprising development – the conversion of the prison guard and his family! More often than not, we can’t even begin to imagine what God is orchestrating in and through us.
Sometimes, we have to make tough choices – things that may not benefit us in the short-term, but have longer-term benefits for those around us, as well as for us, too. Had Paul and Silas made a different choice and fled the scene, the guard surely would have been executed for the prisoners’ escape (knowing this, the guard was going to take his own life, but Paul stopped him from doing so. I’m telling you – this is a very exciting story in the Bible! You really ought to read it!). Can you imagine? Had they let him commit suicide, Paul and Silas could have easily escaped, but they knew that allowing this man to take his own life was wrong. Instead, they made a difficult choiice and put the needs of the guard before their own, and were blessed to witness a remarkable conversion – plus God granted Paul and Silas with their freedom, too!
So you never really know what a spiritual, relationnal, or financial earthquake may fortetell for our lives. At first, all we may see is rubble and loss, but keep your eyes open! God may be working a miracle for you and through you, and – just like Paul and Silas – remember that God can change or completely reverse your circumstances in a nanosecond. Anything is possible with God!
By the way, I forgot to mention two miraculous parts of this story that are often overlooked: 1) The prison doors flew open, and 2) all of the prisoners’ chains fell off. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never experienced an earthquake where all of the doors flow open (usually, it’s the opposite – the door frames collapse, making entry and exit difficult), and I’ve never heard of an earthquake causing people’s shackles to fall off.
A remarkble jolt indeed, no? God works so powerfully in our lives that the barriers that seem impossible for us to overcome – locked doors and shackles – are rendered impotent by Him. Doors fly open (opportunity) and shackles are broken (freedom). When God moves, it is much iike an earthquake – sudden, and very powerful – and it requires us to shift our perspective and look at our circumstances in a new way. So thank the Lord for the spiritual earthoquakes in our lives!
Dear Lord, What a jolt we experienced today! Thanks for keeping me and my family and friends safe, and I hope that no one was injured by the comparatively benign tremor we experienced today.
Thanks also for the reminder that You are always on the move, and that You iterally have the power to shake our world and bring about remarkable transformations in the circumstances of our lives. Help me to be open to the ways that You are moving in my life, and to remember that when something unexpected happens, You are still working out Your good purposes according to Your timing. In the midst of challenging circumstances, help me to look for open doors and broken chains, and remember that better days lay ahead only if I continue to fully place my trust You. In Your name I pray, Amen.