June 16, 2013 by JesstheMess
The leaves were crunching underfoot and colours falling all around. The grass a little too long. The streets a little too silent. The Avon no longer as serene as remembered, hinting at what lay beyond.
Not far past the river stood a building all alone. Surrounded by gates, this colourful wooden dwelling now boarded up, told a story of a time past. Never noticed before, now an icon on an otherwise flattened surrounds. In visits past, it blended into the busy street vista. Not now.
This one building stark in contrast to the vast spaces around, and the piles of rubble with diggers still working. ‘Christchurch’, ‘earthquake’, they are familiar words in this country. The worst day of several strong magnitude earthquakes in the past couple of years was 22 February 2011. That day, a city all ready in recovery mode from a significant earthquake, was brought low. The toll hard hitting. The photo’s speak testimony to a once busy central city, changed forever.
Over the past few years, we have largely stayed away from this part of town. But as work progresses they are opening up a path through this inner city. A place where people can come and comprehend what has happened.
Cosy at home, it’s easy to overlook these harsh realities only a few hours away. To listen to news items with slight annoyance, “can’t we just move on to more positive things?” But this broken, crumbling world cannot be so easily dismissed. Walking amongst the sparse crowd of tourists, hushed tones breaking the stillness. Children pushed in prams in awe of the devastation around. You can’t walk amongst the broken and ignore it, jolted to the core, it makes one contemplate reality.
Were I to live here, my life too could have changed in seconds. Broken…crumbled… never to look the same again. Life, work, possessions, home… it is all so fragile. The things which I today pour energy into, could be gone in a breath. This could be mind-blowingly scary. Dare I take the next breath, lest it be the one that crumbles? This fear could gather close, settle in ones heart and cripple all life trying to avoid this moment. Or I can shut it out, pretend it is not here, shut my eyes to these realities. If I don’t see them or think about them, surely it will not happen to me. But what does this do for my friends who live this reality everyday? Whether I like it or not, …crumbled…, it is here.
This crumbling of earth is not a new thing. The Bible has many references to the earth shaking, both past and future, yet none of it outside of God’s plan or control. Exodus 19:18, 1 Kings 19:11-13, Amos 1:1-2, Zechariah 14:4-6, Matthew 24:6-8, Matthew 27:50-54, Matthew 28:1-3, Acts 16:25-27 & a future great earthquake beyond what has ever been seen before Revelation 16:17. One considers these events with new eyes, after a morning considering the destruction the earths shaking brings. My mind can barely comprehend a God of such power that can shake the foundations of the earth. Yet he who made it, can surely shake it. And as it shakes, the human response can be but fear and trembling, for what can we do in the face of such shaking. We are rendered weak and powerless and reminded that though we have taken dominion of the earth, we by no means have it in our domain. One ought consider whether to attribute all this to fate and live with the fear that fate might deal its next blow our way, or to attribute it to a great and mighty God who is calling us to recognise him and seek him while his patience remains.
See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
I am reminded that He will shake the earth again, in fact he will even shake the heavens, but I am assured that there are things that cannot be shaken. I am assured that there is a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Citizenship of this kingdom comes by faith in Jesus Christ, who has done all that is needed to bring people estranged from God into his family to share the inheritance of this kingdom.
As we walk, the crumbled remains give way to signs of new beginnings. Hope emerges amongst the rubble. Do we build bigger, better, stronger? I’m challenged to build deeper. Not physically, but spiritually. To build my trust not in buildings, or things but in him who promises life with him in a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Doing this brings freedom to hope, even here. Whatever happens amongst this rubble we need not be consumed by ‘what might be’. We can step forward in anticipation of a hope filled future, that no amount of crumbling will stop.
© J.Smith Photography and ‘illuminating the invisible’ (2012-2013).