It's tough to write anything about Friday's devastation in Japan without sounding trite. Maybe it's the availability of so much high-tech communication, real-time video imagery, and the "24-hour news cycle", but I've never in my life seen anything that even begins to approach the catastrophic levels of destruction that have been documented over the past couple of days. Even Hollywood's epic disaster movies never imagined anything close to the scope of what Japan is going through right now.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
I have a photograph of Rebekah standing in front of Washington's Mt. St. Helens that I often use when I'm on the road, speaking. I use it as a backdrop when I talk about perspective, and the omnipresent context that we live in/on a world that is constantly changing, that the process of Creation is still under way, that the same forces that carved out the details of the Grand Canyon remain at work today. I then point out the growing dome inside the massive crater, evidence that - in a hundred years or a thousand - Mt. St. Helens will have changed again, and will continue to do so.
There's a bronze plaque somewhere in the park that carries the following quotation. "Civilization exists at the consent of geology."
My point is that, even in the face of such evidence that dynamic change is a constant foundational principle of life - from the spectacular growth of a sunflower outside my window, to the evidence that stares at us when we look in the bathroom mirror every morning, to dramatic movement in the very crust of the earth - too many of us live as if substantive change in our own lives is not only anathema, but is actually not possible.
Since Ash Wednesday I've been contemplating how I am prepared to - willing - effect positive change in my life (I'd say "spiritual life", but I really can't distinguish anymore between my "life", and my "spiritual life"). In the mere act of contemplation I have already noted change. Not seismic change, but certainly incremental growth in terms of what it means to live this life as a disciple rather than, merely, a man who attends church.
If you're considering such contemplation, then this "Season of Lent" (between last Wednesday and Easter Sunday) is as good a place as any to begin.
Peace - DEREK