Sunday, 16 July 2017

Community

These last few days have been emotionally challenging.  I live in BC, Canada, and this particular area is surrounded by wildfires.  Literally surrounded.  North there are several fires that hamper our escape.  East there are fires threatening the homes of those I care about.  And fires to the south that have destroyed the homes and businesses of many.  And to the west, there is a massive fire that has caused some friends to have to flee, leaving loved ones behind to try and save their homes and livelihoods.  

I have watched friends pack up to leave.  I have watched neighbours flee their houses.  And I have sat and explained to my kids to the best of my ability what is going on around us.  We have prayed.  We have asked others to pray.

We have tried to stay strong in the face of constant uncertainty.

But do you know what I think about most in the midst of all of this broken?  The beauty.  How crazy is that?  We are surrounded with plumes and gusts of smoke billowing through our town, and yet there is untold beauty everywhere you look.

All because we have community.   We have friends and neighbours looking out for each other.  Either keeping each other up to date, or watching for the safety of their belongings after they have been evacuated.  We have people doing neighbourhood watch in neighbourhoods that aren't even their own so that people can take care of their families in peace, knowing that everything is being done to protect their homes.

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We have communities coming together to pool their resources to get through to the next day.  There is no "mine", but an "ours" as we help others out as much as we can.

We have taken food to those who are doing their best to protect us, only to have them pay it on to those they are protecting.  We have been humbled when we realize that there are so many people doing so many dangerous things, and yet they still say thank you for something so small as a snack.

We have people volunteering their time at local businesses so that people can get the things they so desperately need.

The communities that people are running to have been outstanding in their willingness to help.  People are freely opening their homes to others, trying to make this whole ordeal the best that it can be.  Donations are pouring out of everywhere.

We have a neighbouring province stepping up in a major way to supply us with equipment, food and basic necessities until the roads re-open, getting them through roadblocks to get to us.  We donated last year during their time of need, never once thinking that it would be returned on this scale.  We did it simply because that is what you do.  You help.  And they have certainly returned the love.  They understand in a way that few other people can what it is that we're are facing right now, and they are happy to help and take time from their own lives to make ours a little bit better.  

We have people all over our own country, as well as in other countries praying for us.  I have a prayer circle of women that have prayed without ceasing, and I've never even met them face to face.  

As I was packing my most precious belongings in case we need to leave, I was focussing on the fact that all of the things I was packing were just that.  Things.  As much as I had my family with me, I had everything I needed.  My stuff can always be replaced if it needs to.  But God has opened my eyes to something else in the meantime.  His love.  I don't know that all natural disasters bring out the best in people.  It doesn't necessarily bring out the best in all people, but I believe it does in most of us.  And it makes you stop and focus on the big picture.  Showing love and grace to those around, just like it has been shown to you.  Doing the little things means so much more than you could ever know.

I don't know what upheaval you are facing right now.  It may be a health issue, or a family disagreement.  Or something else entirely.  But I do know that we have a God who loves us and desires the best for us.  He has never promised that it would be an easy ride, but instead promised that he would be there with us.  As I witness this right now, each day, I ask that you let him reach out to you too.  

I can choose tomorrow when I wake up to search for the ashes.  It would be so easy to look at all of the destruction and miss the beauty in the broken.  I saw a beautiful video the other day by a woman who has struggled, where the woman said to focus on what you can do, instead of what you can't.  There is always something you can do, no matter how small.  And will help you to make a big change.  And I am here to tell you, it works.

Heavenly Father, I thank you today for your mercies.  Even as we walk through the flames, you are here.  You have not abandoned us or forsaken us, but have carried us when we were too weak.  You have been our strength and you have shown your love in the most unbelievable ways.  I lift up those who are struggling to see the light.  I pray that you would give them peace beyond measure and that you would be their strength.  Show them that their worth is in you, not in the world, and that they are loved and worthy of so much more.  Show them the blessings in the broken, just as you have done with me.  In faith I pray.  Amen.