Feb. 4, 2014/ Earthquakes and Landslides


Working early mornings, Carley and I set our alarm each night to wake up and get going the next day. Even though we set the alarm, we have come to understand the tone from the alarm clock isn’t always the thing that wakes us up. In recent weeks, we have been startled awake by thieves trying to break in to our house, earthquakes, and lightning strikes, to name a few.

Sunday was an example of an “alternative” alarm clock method. I set our alarm for an early morning trip into the mountains. I had a meeting where I would be casting vision for discipleship in a small village outside of Bujumbura. Around 5:00 a.m., Carley was startled awake asking “Ladd, what is going on?”. The doors and windows were all shaking. A few moments of consciousness allowed both of us to realize what was happening. The earthquake ended fairly quick without any further aftershock.

It is fair to say, at this point, we were both awake.

I made my way out the door and picked up a friend who was going with me. We motored through town as the sun crept higher into the sky. On the edge of town, a crowd of people were all gathered around the base of the mountain that we were supposed to be ascending. Crowds can mean a number of things. Few of the reasons are good, varying from vehicle collisions, fights, deaths, or people shouting on microphones. This morning’s crowd was none of the previously mentioned reasons but nothing less than a complete washout of the entire road.

Not sure if the earthquake had caused it and curious if an aftershock was on its way, my friend and I cautiously walked a bit closer to the edge to find a way around. Fifty yards of road were completely gone with other sections broken away, soon to join the rest of the soil and tarmac at the bottom of the ravine. It was going to be some time before the road was fixed.

Despite my desire to shovel some dirt in a pile for a jump and provide the crowd Evel Knievel-like entertainment, my dreams were squashed by the realization a flying muzungu (white person) would only put one of us across the gap. We motored around and found a small dirt path through the forest. This took us around the section of missing road and back on our way up the mountain. We eventually made it up to the village discussion and shared some great time together with some eager listeners.

Days like this teach us to make plans, but remember that God is the one guiding our steps. We never really know what is going to happen the next day. Today’s worries are definitely enough for us to consider. Tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Our alarm clock might go off as usual, but it might not. It is really each of our choice to embrace the earthquakes and landslides of life. These moments can be tragic or beautiful. We can allow these experiences to teach us and shape us to be all God has created us to be. Sometimes we run from the earthquakes and landslides, trying to forget them. Unfortunately, closing our eyes to a washout in our life only leaves us driving blind off the road and hurt at the bottom.

Perhaps the next time we experience an earthquake or landslide in life, God wants us to grab a handful of throttle and show Evel Knievel a thing or two. Maybe He wants us to find a little trail through the forest. Regardless of the way across, even if it is terrifying or painful, it could be just the thing God wants us to do.

-Ladd Serwat

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