Mar 16, 2011

Suddenly: Devastation

Our swaggerless van that caught on fire.
Yesterday morning I got a phone call from my husband as I was getting ready for work. "I am standing at the intersection of 55th Street and Hwy 52 watching our van burn," he said.

We had the van for less than a week. I hadn't even driven it yet. In these days of ever increasing gas prices, we'd traded our gas guzzler in for a more efficient van with swagger hoping to save a few dollars in our budget. Now the van and our plans are gone. Just like that. Fortunately my husband was all right.

Sometimes things change so quickly. We think things are one way only to find in a split second they've changed. Sometimes the devastation brings about good change, like when God allowed a crisis in our lives to force us to get the help we needed. Other times it's harder to see the good that comes out of split second life changing moments.

It makes me think about Japan and the recent devastation there. As I was looking at photos of the destruction caused by the tsunami and the total devastation, it struck me that pictures do such an injustice to the magnitude of the situation. They only show a snapshot. Behind the snapshot is humanity. One photo in particular caught my eye. It showed a woman sitting on the ground, surrounded by heaps and heaps of rubble, crying. What must it be like to one day be living life as you've always known it, then the next day to be surrounded by heaps and heaps of rubble? Where are her loved ones? Where are her possessions that she once treasured? Are they among the heaps surrounding her? No wonder she's bawling.

Devestation in Japan. - source: CNN via Reuters

Devestation in New Orleans
The photos of the tsunami aftermath reminded me of the photos of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and more recently Haiti.


Devestation in Manhattan.

And then I thought of the images of 9/11. The unspeakable horror of realizing terror of that magnitude was purposefully carried out by people and not forces of nature. Lives lost and lives changed forever. In an unchangeable instant.

As I was considering how life can change so quickly, the story of the seven children in Pennsylvania who died in their home drew me in. The mother was out milking cows, the father was out delivering milk. How suddenly their life has changed.

Things change in an instant. How well the people in Japan know that right now. One day concerned about planning a birthday party, perhaps. The next day concerned about survival.

Suddenly unemployed. Suddenly fighting a terminal illness. Suddenly dealing with bullies. Suddenly a young widow. As much as we'd like to think it, we're not in control. Things happen that are beyond our control. If we know the One who is in control, the One who can turn bad situations into opportunities for good, then we need not be anxious about anything - even sudden devestation.

But we do need to trust Him. That's as hard as admitting we're not in control.

We're like a mist - here for only a little while.

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. James 4:13-17 


  1. After being a control person for my entire life until the last few months, I am realizing now how pursuing control is a futile endeavor. When will you ever have enough control? When will you be able to get to "there"?

    When you try to control you are not free. You are not free to love, to fly, to live with no regrets. Watching your van burn during a very busy day and actually enjoy the moment. Now that's freeing.

  2. Glad JD is okay! The Japan situation is so devastating on such a large scale. There are, as you mention, a lot of sobering and sudden situations. One time I said to David, "It's so hard trusting God." He replied, "It's much harder not to." I kept thinking of that as I read of the different examples. Hope your vehicle woes get resolved soon.

  3. It's always "suddenly" isn't it? Never ready for the devastation when it comes washing over you like a wave, but He is. He is in control, knows our pain and fear and meets us right there in that awful place - and carries us through all the yuck and sets us in a spacious place.

    So glad your husband is okay.

  4. So glad JD is okay..... Happiness is having a new van....Joy is watching your van burn but knowing God is still in control. I am sorry for the loss of your van.

  5. Ladydiole- Here is a funny twist to our Van Going up in smoke. Rochester Toyota got another 2008 Toyota Sienna in, but this was an XLE- so upgrades, ect... and has 20,000 miles less than the one that looks like a burnt marshmellow now. They are going to give it to us for the same price as the other. So I say- Let your car burn! By the way- Rochester Ford-Toyota is the best place to get a car. They are run by Christian principles, have been big supporters to my work with FCA and they have been a huge help to Anne and I.

    ps- I love the quote on your blog about Grace!

  6. hello anne. i experience your blog as a labor of love. the writing is very very good (not just good) because the thinking and the heart in it are kind of magical, to my mind. anyway you let me know if i need to keep my reading to the latest blog; i hope not to trespass.

  7. Marilyn - it's not trespassing. I would have it marked "private" if I didn't want people to read it. I'm not sure that I really expect anyone to read it, but it's just me putting my thoughts out there. Magic as they are. Thanks for the kind words on my writing.

  8. Thinking of Joplin, MO today. Sudden devestation.


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