The topless mountain looks relatively serene as you look at it from the west.
It's when you take the drive around to Mt. St. Helen's north side that you are faced with the reality of the devastation caused by the volcanic lateral blast that occurred on May 18th, 1980.
The closer you get, the more ominous it looks. Then you realize you are standing on the ridge where geologist David Johnson, via radio transmission, uttered his last words, "Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!" before he was killed by the debris and gases from the lateral blast. Fifty seven people perished in that volcanic eruption. In just three minutes 3.3 billion cubic yards of fiery rock and dust covered 230 square miles of forest landscape, killing countless wildlife and millions of trees.
My husband and I are taking an extra day off here and there this summer. Last week we chose to drive up to Mt. St. Helens. I grew up in a suburb of Portland, Oregon, which is where we now live. My husband grew up in Washington state closer to the mountain. When he was young, he inner tubed down the Toutle River and hung out at Spirit Lake, both forever changed since the 1980 eruption.
What stuck me from our trip to the mountain was the fact that lateral eruptions are relatively rare. Though geologists had been warning since 1978 that the mountain was going to erupt, no one knew the exact way or all of the consequences of that eruption. On the morning of May 18th an earthquake occurred under the mountain while the largest debris avalanche in recorded history occurred on the north side of the mountain. This, in essence, was like removing the cap from a shaken bottle of soda. The lateral blast occurred seconds after the avalanche but the velocity of the blast overtook the avalanche debris reaching speeds of approximately 670 miles an hour.
Much like the geologists predictions of the imminent eruption of Mt. St. Helens in the years previous to 1980, people who read and study and believe God's Word, people who love God and are in tune with His heart and His Spirit, have seen the warning signs of the moral and cultural decline of our nation. They've grieved as our country has wandered far from its foundation as a Christian nation, and away from adhering to the laws of its governing document, the Constitution. But, like Mt. St. Helens, none can predict exactly what's going to happen, exactly when, or exactly how. No one can predict the collateral damage.
Whether we are talking about an individual or a nation, we too often make decisions based on what we want, what feels good to us at the moment, assuming that we are the only ones being affected. Unfortunately, rarely are our decisions without consequences, consequences not just to us, but to others. This past week, decisions were made in our nation, that, like the avalanche that unleashed the lateral blast of Mt. St. Helens, are going to uncork massive unforeseen, unexpected consequences. If you believe the Bible, than you know that there are satanic and demonic influences that thrive where darkness dwells. All sin is darkness, from lying to stealing to murder to adultery to homosexuality. Repentance lets the light of God into those areas of darkness. When nations legalize sin, such as abortion and same sex marriage, and make laws against righteousness, such as removing prayer from schools and religious symbols like crosses or the ten commandments from public buildings, they are basically opening the floodgates to darkness. Violence fills the streets, the economy suffers, division, strife and hatred increases. I am overwhelmingly concerned for our children and our grandchildren, who are going to be facing the blast of consequences we have caused by removing the Biblical moral guidelines that were keeping the tide of evil in check. We've shaken the soda bottle friends, we've loosened the lid, God have mercy on us.
This is an unusual thing for me to write on my weekly gratitude post. But, this blog is titled, just following Jesus in my real life, and it would be unreal of me not to be honest about how this Jesus follower is coping right now. I am heavy hearted. This afternoon my husband and I went and visited with an elderly couple from our church. They are from Romania. When they were children, communism took over their country. When they were a young married couple, he was imprisoned for his faith. While he was in prison, she was approached at her job and told she would be fired if she didn't sign papers renouncing her faith. With her husband in prison and two little ones to support, she had a horrendous decision to make. She refused to sign the papers. For the next two years, God miraculously provided for her and her children through His people until her husband was released from prison and they were able to come to the U.S. Today, they told us that they see this place that they fled to for refuge going down the same awful path that they escaped from. Our religious freedom is precarious, friends. Pastors, like my husband, like my son-in-law, may actually have to choose between obeying the Bible, or obeying the law of the land.
Thank [God] [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and ], for this is the will of God for you [who are] Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Amplified Bible
What am I giving thanks for in the midst of these current circumstances? I'm giving thanks that God is always with us, no matter what we face, He will never, ever leave us or forsake us. I'm also thankful that He doesn't leave us clueless about what to do.
, who are called by name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 Amplified Bible
Notice that this verse says, My people. It's not those who don't know Him that He's telling to humble themselves, to pray, to seek His face, to turn from their wicked ways, it's us, His people, His church! If we will wake up, quit being sleepy and passive, humble ourselves, (This means realizing that sinners are going to sin, lost people act lost! We must quit pointing fingers at them and realize that it's the passive, compromising church that is responsible.), pray, crave God as our vital necessity, repent from our sins and turn from our wicked ways, God will hear us, forgive us and heal our land!
I'm thankful that it's not too late! God, help us to do our part and watch with wonder and gratitude as You do yours!
Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
I continue to count my thanks
piling up gratitude day by day
in my little green journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone)
-God working when I turn things over to Him and pray instead of trying to change them myself
-sweet red cherries
-strong legs and a healthy body that can still walk/run
-watching God bring healing and freedom in people's lives
-on an earlier than usual run, seeing my neighbor out watering her flowers wearing her cheery striped robe
-lunch by the river and a good visit with my friend
-our two youngest granddaughters-a walk to Dairy Queens for ice cream cones, a bubble bath,
snuggling them in their clean pjs while watching a movie
-our son-in-law's birthday (middle daughter's hubs)
-a trip to Mt. St. Helens
-sitting out on the patio in the cool of the evening writing
-ending the day with time in God's Word
-reminders in God's Word to trust Him with all of our needs
-the beauty of God's plan of redemption, seen from Genesis through Revelation
-renting a movie to watch together after a long day, and dozing off in the middle of it
-my favorite breakfast
-a Friday date day full of interruptions, (oh, the life of a pastor!),
but still managing to have a nice dinner out by the river
-visiting with our daughter, son-in-law and grandkids after dinner-
lots of fun watching youngest grandson play in his tiny kiddie pool
-fresh berries on my yogurt and granola
-getting Saturday chores done before the heat of the day
-our son-in-law's birthday, (youngest daughter's hubs)
-still being free to gather together, worship, pray, and preach the truth of the Word
-new workers in children's ministry
-an afternoon visit with our heroes in the faith