Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Lord is My Strength and My Shield

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him.
~ Psalm 28:7

Gilded sunlight is filtering through the gauzy clouds of morning. Birds pipe their morning carols, joined by a choir of crickets. Across town, Pike's Peak is mostly visible through what appears to be the last remnants of fog. However, if I think about it, when I take a deep breath I can smell smoke. I have smelled it for so many days that I don't think about the scent any more. That probably will not change soon. Nor will I soon cease dreaming of glowing orange balls of flame. Ashes still cover my car in a thin layer, or drop onto my computer screen whilst I type. When I hear sirens I will praise God for our firefighters and emergency workers. It is going to take some time before I stop bursting into tears of grief for those who have lost their homes and livelihoods. 

 The last several days have felt like a month. I have slept in my own bed once since the fire began on Saturday. This is mostly due to the hospitality of friends all around town who are offering their homes to shelter evacuees or former evacuees (like myself). Persons all over my community have given food, clothes, money, time, their homes, dinners, and most importantly, their prayers, non-stop over the last five days. Churches have opened their doors to evacuees, set up prayer services, and have visibly been Christ to the watching world.
Tuesday afternoon and into the night, I watched the most horrific sight I have ever personally witnessed. Clouds of smoke, and ash that fell like snow, swelled over all of Colorado Springs. The front range was covered in hundreds of orange bursts that looked like lava swelling down the close side of the foothills. It was as if Mordor had sprung to life before my very eyes. I could see circles of fires, whole housing communities  lighting up the night's darkness. Two of my friends lost their homes in what looks like a war zone.  

(The photo above, courtesy of someone on facebook, is my friends' neighbourhood. I do not show this to be sensational, but to explain the heartbreaking loss incurred, and how persons are praising God through it all.)

Yesterday I was back at work, listening to worship music as I packaged books and curriculum for Summit customers. One song, Our God is Greater by Chris Tomlin, came on and these lyrics caught in a lump in my throat: "Into the darkness You shine, Out of the ashes we rise. There's no one like You, None like You." Indeed, though nearly 29 square miles of my city and national forest have burnt, there is no one like God. Job's response to God after great calamity now makes more sense to me: "Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshipped.  And he said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

 There is great grief and sorrow at the loss of so many homes - I even feared losing my home for a brief time. However, the LORD reminded me it is only 'stuff'. No persons have been seriously injured or killed in this fire. Our firefighters have tirelessly protected us from extreme danger at their own risk. God is still worthy of our praise, no matter our circumstances. I am seeing this over and again in my own life, and I have seen it displayed in the lives and attitudes of my friends who have lost their home.

Last night the fire was more contained. I didn't feel like I was in the midst of Armageddon or Chernobyl. During conversation with my friends, we looked up and saw a rainbow over Colorado Springs. God is still faithful to keep His promises. God is still good. He gives us hope, strength, and wisdom.  In our very weakness He is our Strength and Shield, no less. He is still worthy of worship and praise.

I am reminded of this truth: "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (II Cor 4.16-18)

*Please keep praying for our firefighters and city personnel who are tirelessly fighting on the front lines or behind the scenes. I praise God for them daily.*

Under His Mercy,
~ Johanna

1 comment:

  1. WOW! I am so thankful that persons have not been the major cause of harm. I continue to pray for the people of Colorado Springs and the surrounding area. I love that God placed a rainbow over the city as a reminder of His faithfulness and care. <3