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April 1, 2014

Confronting disaster with an eternal perspective

by Dave Malnes

The devastation is complete.

A rescue worker with her trained dog looks helplessly across a mountain plain that is now layered with thick, hardening mud.

The expression on her face spoke to the depth of the tragedy. Her frozen image could not adequately convey what she was comprehending before her.

Where do I look? What will I find? Where do I begin to search?

Hope inspires to search and search until desperation dissipates into reality. How could a person survive amidst this destruction?

We long to hear the rescue stories — the miracles of finding a person alive after all hope seemed lost. But, it seems that chapter will not be written. It’s been over a week since the mudslide in Oso, WA where over twenty people have been confirmed dead and another thirty are still missing. My heart goes out to the family members and citizens grieving over the lost and still holding out hope, still awaiting good news from the ongoing rescue.

When confronting face-to-face with the forces of nature, nature always wins

Growing up less than an hour away from the mudslide, we knew there were always risks. Due to the hilly terrain, many families chose to build their homes on or below a large bluff overlooking Puget Sound or on a mountain side. Drenching rains loosen the soil that has already been uprooted. Extensive damage occurs when the dirt becomes too saturated. Sometimes people are killed. Combined with small earthquakes, heavy winds from the ocean coast, or even an erupting volcano, there is an element of catastrophic danger living in the Pacific Northwest.

It reminds me of Mt. St. Helens. Lives were affected after the eruption. People were spellbound at the enormity of its complete devastation. Deaths tragically occurred. Since the mountain was located in a less populous region, the toll was minimal. But if Mt. Rainier in Seattle or Mt Hood by Portland ever erupted, hundreds of thousands of lives would be lost.

When nature flexes its muscles, it always wins.

God always wins, too.

The Author and Creator of this world seems to use nature to remind ourselves of who He is and who we are not. He is not only a God who loves the world by providing and caring for it, but also a God who wants to communicate a very difficult message. There are disasters waiting to happen based on the consequences of sin.

Lost souls in need of a rescue. It is a spiritual reality that far exceeds the disasters we see on television or the internet. When looking upon this world with eternal lenses, a sense of urgency arises. The depth and consequences of sin are so great, that it took a Savior to live and die in our place. This good news of God’s grace is the life preserver. It’s the message that sends a search and rescue team to comb through the debris. The miracle happens when the lost is found when all hope was gone.

The Beckamoor cross by Jed Langdon

The Beckamoor cross by Jed Langdon

I mourn the losses when natural disasters occur. I also mourn the eternal disasters of people who reject the rescue of our Savior. Lord, open our eyes to gain a new eternal perspective. Use me to be a part of your search and rescue team.

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