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Christian Union
January 9, 2019
Sarah Camp

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. - Isaiah 54:10

It was about 3:30 am, January 9, 2018. One year ago the rain unleashed over the coastal community, loosening boulders the size of firetrucks from the mountain range. These tore through mature trees, gathering them along on torrents that ripped through dry creek beds, channels now overwhelmed with the explosive force of earth racing the short miles from the craggy mountain range, through homes and businesses, to the beaches below.

Inconceivably, trees, boulders, cars, everything made buoyant. Mud swept away those on ground level, ripped them out their own front doors, roiling toward the ocean. Some were buried under collapsed homes, some plunged deep into the mud. A garage, torn from one house, crashes through a neighbor’s home. Tragedies unfolding over and over and over. Some families separated forever in a heartbeat. 

Darkness. Rain. Chaos. Death.

I woke with a jolt. The rain was a cataract on the roof, an unnerving sound, a waterfall that shouldn’t be. My roof, my home, was secure. I stirred uneasily. Recent fires had stripped the mountains bare, threatening to sweep in on the town just weeks ago. Now, a few miles from where I lay, the unthinkable, what geologist called a “biblical” amount of rain in under five minutes had unleashed on the denuded mountains. Already, a boulder had caused a gas explosion, a fireball shot into the sky. Homes were ablaze even as rain hammered down and the streets were moving walls of mud mixed with ash of recent fires, soon to be like concrete. 

Intrepid first responders had planned and prepared. They had gone door-to-door, knocking, explaining, warning those thought to be in the most grave danger. They had prepositioned themselves in key places, potentially dangerous places, in well-coordinated anticipation of possible catastophe. And while they were facing down danger to warn and rescue, I was in bed.

Words fail to convey the grief the memory of that moment in bed brings to mind when I reflect on the events in my community just one year ago. Guilt, I suppose, that I could lay and listen to the rain, as though it was simply rain, with unease, yes, but no real comprehension of the unfolding horror touching others. In the days that followed, the scope of loss became clear, as the throbbing sound of Blackhawk helicopters rescuing hundreds stranded at their homes, filled the air, military vehicles arrived, specially designed to advance through deep mud and debris. There were vigils. And funerals. And a collective shock and ache.

I share this memory because loss and longing are emotions the Holy Spirit stirs up and uses in us, awakening us to the dangers others face, motivating us to seek out the lost, and serve as agents of God’s healing and restoration.

I wonder, are we not saved in order to be the “first responders” to our families, to our communities, to our nation? To run from door to door, to cry out of the real danger confronting us all.

While I was unaware of the desperation around me that night, I can’t say I am unaware of the desperate condition of those who do not know the saving grace of Jesus Christ. And if the Lord has given us a role, something like first responders, spiritually speaking, to our generation, how hard would my heart have to be not to fall on my knees? To pray, to fast, to repent of my sin and our collective sin? To share the One who is refuge from the greater storm; to offer the rescue that is ours in Jesus Christ?

Today, let’s ask God to open our eyes to the desperate condition of friends, families, and colleagues. Many are, as it were, like those waiting on their roof tops. They are in need of rescue from spiritual death, and something worse that death itself -- eternal separation from the Living God.

For them, waters are rising fast.

Who are we to be so bold, you may ask? Living proof of God's rescue, for one thing! He has restored us to life! And he has equipped us with the power of the Holy Spirit to seek out anyone who may listen to his call to "choose life" (Deuteronomy 30:19). Who will go and tell them of the Rescuer who is mighty to save? Will you pray to find out where He would send you? Will you rise? Will you go?


sarahSarah Camp is a director of marketing and communications for Christian Union. She earned a bachelor's degree at Georgetown University. Previously, Sarah served as director of annual giving for  Westmont College, a Christian college in southern California. She lives in Santa Barbara, California, with her husband and two sons.
 
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