Category Archives: teaching/sharing

Where was God in Waldo Canyon Fire?

“Where was God in the Waldo Canyon Fire?”

Someone posed this question in comments on my last blog.  Not a surprising question, this seems to come up often in disaster or tragedy.  Where was God during 9-11?  Where was God during Oklahoma City bombing?  Or on a personal level: Where was God when my loved one got cancer?  Where was God when war ravaged my spouse?  Where was God when…

Possible versions of this question are as numerous as persons who utter it.

Evacuating our home in Foothills of Colorado Springs during “the worst fire in Colorado’s history”, I glanced back to find our entire neighborhood engulfed in smoke.  Flames and black clouds spanned the Front Range.  Many people later commented how it appeared all of Colorado Springs was on fire.  This catastrophic scene gripped my heart as adrenaline coursed through my veins and stole my breath.  Ravaging effects of fire exploding onto our ridge in 65 mph winds wholly obstructed my usual sublime view of mountain vistas, not the least of which our beloved Pikes Peak.

This rock solid, glorious mountain inspired Katharine Lee Bates in 1823 to pen lyrics to America the Beautiful.  She later referred to it as “Gate-of-Heaven Summit”.   America’s Mountain, 10 miles west of Colorado Springs, 14110 feet above sea level {or 14,117 depending on which account you believe}, 38 acres of grandeur, Majestic Pikes Peak,  vanished from view in a chilling haze of smoke and flames.

In chaos of incineration and devastation of the Waldo Canyon Fire, did Pikes Peak move?  Was this magnificent mound any less regal or glorious than days before?  Could unspeakable disaster minimize its majesty, stymie its strength or lessen its loveliness?

My agonizing inability to see Pikes Peak did not alter the mountain’s presence nor could it.  Despite cataclysmic crisis, “Gate of Heaven Summit” stood resolute.  Likewise, the God of Heaven and Earth, unsurprised by human events, remained steadfast, majestic throughout this travesty and countless others before.

 The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure. Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity. Psalm 93:1-2 NIV

I understand and empathize with the question, “Where was God when…” In my life I’ve experienced numerous times when I couldn’t feel God.  Well-meaning friends advised me to stop relying on feelings because they aren’t real.  Mature Christians, I’m told, put no stock in their feelings.  I must respectfully disagree.  Jesus experienced a deep range of emotions…Joy for little children who came to Him, sorrow over deaths of His best friend Lazarus & cousin John the Baptist, compassion for those who sought healing of Him, betrayal at the kiss of a disciple, and agony & abandonment in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Feelings represent an integral part of the human condition.  They let us know we are fully alive.  They signal that something is wrong…or right…depending on the situation.  The key is not to let our feelings overtake Truth articulated in God’s Word.  Facing fire, evacuation and beyond a most compelling Truth comforts me,

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1

In times of great human suffering, we may struggle to “see God”.  Yet His Presence never abandons us to our circumstances.  God takes no holy holidays or celestial coffee breaks.  God did not evacuate the premises during the Waldo Canyon Fire.  No vacancy sign hung from heaven.  No missing celestial person’s report needed filing.

Eyes of our soul play tricks on us and we cannot always see clearly what lies beyond the veil of dark clouds in our path.  Yet, inability to see grandeur cannot diminish its reality.  Our God remains our constant companion just as sure as Pikes Peak emerged from beyond a smoky haze, glorious and majestic.

True to His Word, “I Am with you always even to the ends of the earth…” {Matthew 28:20 American KJV}  God is here in Colorado Springs just as He has always been.

Even beyond this assurance of His Presence, God doesn’t expect us to merely believe He caused something tragic to happen in Colorado, and we just have to accept it.  That would stir an even greater ache than a fire’s devastation.  Instead, our Creator walks this painful journey through a broken world with us.  He is acquainted with our grief and bears our sorrows.

Immanuel, God with us, shares in this gut-wrenching tragedy.   His heart breaks with ours.  He weeps with those who mourn.  In anxiety and calamity we discover our deepest need for God and in these times, if we look for Him, He reveals himself most precious to us.

      God give us eyes to see.

 

 

 

 

{photo by Megan Gendron Howe}

 

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Pretty Woman–God’s Perspective

On Thursday, January 26, I will be the guest speaker for Colorado Springs, CO, DreamMakers, a ministry for single women of ALL walks of life.  Whether you are widowed, never married, separated, divorced, young, young-at-heart or feeling REALLY OLD, if … Continue reading

Chair of Thanksgiving, Single Mom Style

I have a dear friend who has a Chair of Thanksgiving where she faithfully meets with Jesus each morning.  A pretty, decorated basket next to her prayer chair is filled with her Bible, journal, pens, highlighters, a box of tissue and note cards to write encouraging Scripture to others to remind them to be thankful as well.  I admire my friend’s discipline and her commitment to meet with Jesus daily, to talk with him, listen for Him and thank Him.  I’m a bit envious that she has the luxury of doing all this from the comfort & quietness of her special chair.  My friend, however, is NOT a single parent.

I am a single mom and My Chair of Thanksgiving is portable.

It’s a white wooden chair at my kitchen table with my family.

It’s a swivel chair at my desk.

It’s a patio chaise on my back deck overlooking our Colorado skyline.

It’s a swing in a nearby park, a boulder on a hiking trail, a bicycle seat, a bench on a firing range–anywhere I’m fortunate enough to hang out with my kiddos.

It’s the front seat of my automobile, sometimes on the passenger side while my teen drives and I thank God for nerves of steel.

It’s a stadium chair at my son’s sports events.

It’s a cold, stiff chair in a doctor’s office.

It’s a sofa in a counselor’s office.

It’s a beach towel on a sandy Pacific shore.

It’s a window seat 33,000 feet above & between majestic Colorado & Alaska mountains.

And anyone who’s ever been a single mom desperate for a few minutes of solitude will understand when I say sometimes my Chair of Thanksgiving is a toilet seat!

My Chair of Thanksgiving is portable because my Bible tells me that I am to never cease giving thanks…

“Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I Thessalonians 5:17-18

As a single mom, I often struggle with ingratitude.  Some days I don’t feel like giving thanks.  It’s easier to feel sorry for myself, having to parent solo for the better part of 14 years, than it is to say “Thank You, Jesus”.   But when I begin to consider Who it is I am thanking, my gratitude takes on a whole other dimension even as a single mom.

As a woman who parented 18 children through birth, fostering and adoption, I’ve learned that I can be thankful because:

When I feel alone Jesus is “Immanuel, God with Us”.  His presence never leaves me, no matter how lonely my heart feels Jesus is always here with me.  He sees every tear and He holds my heart.

When my world is full of chaos, juggling schedules and homework and carpools and sport practices and doctor’s appointments, He is my “Jehovah Shalom, the Lord is peace.”

When I am exhausted and desperate for rest from all those mothering responsibilities, God is “Maon & Machseh, My dwelling place & refuge.”

When I struggle to make financial ends meet, God is  “Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides.”  My children may not always have what they want, but He faithfully gives us all we need.

When my heart breaks from hurtful things my kids say about me & to me, God is my “Magen, my shield,” to protect me from the arrows of young, uncensored mouths.

When I am overwhelmed in the spiritual battle for the hearts of my children, God is “Yahweh Nissi, the Lord my Banner “ who goes before me in battle and protects us.  Confident of His protection, I can fight any battle in His power & prevail in His strength.

When my kids try to push me around and I just don’t feel that strong, He is “Metsuda & Migdal-Oz, my fortress and my strong tower.”

When I am overwhelmed with guilt at all my failures, mistakes and motherly imperfections, He is “Jehovah Rophe, the God who heals.”, healing my mind and my heart, allowing me to forgive myself.

When I am confused about right decisions to make for my children, He is ”Rabbi, teacher” who shows me the path to follow.

When I am discouraged and feel I can’t keep going, He is “Miqweh Yisrael, the Hope of Israel, the God of Hope”.  Hope that steadies me in fear & trials, not because everything in life is picture perfect but because the God of Hope can be trusted in every situation.

Finally, When I am tired of being single and I long for a husband, Jesus is “Nymphios, my Bridegroom”.  I am married to my Lord.  And I can give thanks that my husband not only loves me deeply & unconditionally, He doesn’t leave the toilet seat up.

In this holiday season, I encourage you to embrace your Chair of Thanksgiving, wherever it may be.