I have been reading every update I can on the disaster situation (from floods) in southern Alberta but more specifically in our town of High River. The whole town has been evacuated and thousands have been displaced creating refugees. It has affected my parents, my sister and her family and many, many friends. As an ex-firefighter for the community, I just want to return and help. This situation is so much bigger than the “big” floods that have occurred in the past. It is amazing the different ways that people are responding. Many are looking outside themselves and looking to help and assure the person in need. Others just don’t have the coping abilities to understand what to do next. While others are forming to bring a court ruling to allow them back into the middle of a fluid disaster zone. Talk about a sense of entitlement!
There are so many parallels with the Slave Lake fire situation where Linda and I were able to respond and be in the thick of things. Being there when town was opened up for people to return and seeing the desperation and frailty on the faces. Being a listening ear because people needed to talk their most innermost feeling out. Hauling fridges and freezers filled with rotted food that created an unbelievable stench. People trying to find out what insurance covered and what it didn’t. There were so many affected, who lost houses and belongings; and yet they were the ones to turn and help the next person in their time of need. So many people deeply affected and hurt. In our work of community development where this type of crisis lives itself out every day, we have learned that no matter how rich you are or how poor you are, a disaster of this type in High River puts everyone on the same footing. How a person chooses how they will respond respond to a crisis directly reflects on their character and values. Life is a daily race. How you compete and finish this race of life is vitally important. Don’t let the daily distractions (ie. on “things” you have lost) affect how you compete. I want to leave you with an excerpt of a blog of a friend of mine.
At the finish line on this dramatic day were the announcers and many, many people. Some friends, some family, but mostly people from the city gathered to cheer the athletes on and home. This made me think of Hebrews 12:1 and the great cloud of witnesses cheering us on! Jesus himself said: “I will be with you always, even until the end of this age.” (Matthew 28:20, NCV) and Zephaniah 3:17: “He will take great delight in you; in his love… will rejoice over you with singing” (NIV). What a song! Can you hear it?
“10 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1; ESV)
Encouragement from the Scriptures:
“29He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:29-31; ESV)
Think about the encouragement given to the church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3:11: “Keep a tight grip on what you have so no one distracts you and steals your crown” (The Message).
Not only were they encouraged to keep a tight grip, but also not to be distracted. Why? I do not think they were meant to just keep a tight grip or hold of things for the sake of keeping a tight grip on things. I do not think they were instructed to remain in the same place or position but rather, as they are encouraged, not to become distracted. They were encouraged to press on or continue growing and going about their purpose.
Trust me, I know, there are times in our lives when all we can do or feel we can do is hold on and not even sure how tightly at that!
There are things that happen in our lives that can cause us to stumble, perhaps lead us into thinking about giving up, but at these times, possibly more than ever, we need to endure and “press on toward the prize” (Philippians 3:14; ESV). When we feel there is absolutely no strength left in us, we must look to Jesus and draw on His strength to sustain us. He is able to keep us from tripping, stumbling or falling (Jude 1:24)… but if we do fall, may we have the strength, courage and obedience to get back up again and start afresh: “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again” (Proverbs 24:16; NLT).
Friends I want to encourage you, no matter what and I mean no matter what has happened in your life, perhaps happening in your life right now or anything that might happen in the future. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on “Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2; NASB) and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!” (Philippians 3:14; ESV). May our desire increase, our preparation be more specific and focused and may the fruit of our discipline and obedience equip and empower us to endure until the very end! Let us not give up but live the abundant life Christ has in store for us!