May 24, 2010 Matt Pennock

Surrounded by the Judgment of God

I am sitting atop Johnston’s ridge which overlooks Mount Saint Helens. As I look around me I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the destruction that is still evident 30 years after that massive eruption. I am surrounded by 360 degrees of desolation (of course new vegetation is sprouting) in places) that spans for miles and miles in all directions. The valleys and mountain sides all around me have but a few shrubs here and there and some remnants of dead tree trunks clustered in patches much further away.

The deep valley floor about a thousand feet below me is flat and tinted with green. Dead tree stumps with splintered tops litter the landscape. In various places streams flow down mountain sides as though they were ashamedly naked as most stream beds are alive with lush plant life but these have little or none. What really gets you is when you realize that the entire scene would have been an idyllic and picturesque forest of tall old growth trees, full of birds flying about and all manner of wildlife flitting throughout the underbrush if you were here before May 18th, 1980. It all disappeared in a matter of minutes. Vaporized by pyroclastic flow that had no mercy and left nothing untouched. An estimated 1.5 million animals were killed along with the 57 humans in the area.

The greatness and magnitude is beyond compare, and to stand right in the middle of it, tends to make you feel the opposite as a small fragile creature. It reminds us that our day-to-day lives are lived in an illusion of safety. We feel safe because of the small minute measures that we take to make us feel that way. But ultimately, the Great Powers have their way regardless of what we think or do.

[pullshow] The reality is, we are surrounded by the very judgment of God himself who created this world for us (Gen. 3:17). We and the world were to get along perfectly (Gen. 1:31), but one act of rebellion turned the whole relationship upside down (Rom. 5:12; Rom. 8:19-22). Creation now shakes, drowns, burns, consumes, smashes, and tears us to pieces every single day. Haiti felt this in colossal proportions, as we all witnessed earlier this year.[pullthis] And this is where a holy fear rises in my being. I myself, one of the sons of Adam, have my own part in this Sin that ruined the world (Rom. 5:19).[/pullthis] I could then, in a sense, be partly to blame for what has happened to creation. God promised death if Adam should sin (Gen. 2:17). Adam is now dead. And the mystery of it is, that God in his mercy and loving-kindness, did not make an utter end to us pathetic creatures. He let us continue on. The earth was now under a curse that would bring us plenty of grief, but we would be allowed to continue on. Of course it wasn’t without purpose. God promised to Abraham that one particular Brother of ours—one of Abraham’s own offspring—would be the one and only means of a renewal and restart (Gen. 3:15;  Gen. 28:14; Gal. 3:16). The one Way to all restoration and renewal of what we forfeited to the enemy that fateful day in Eden. Its a crazy sounding story, indeed, but to see such awesome, fantastically dreadful destruction is a reminder of what is simply owed to us.

And so as I look out at all the barrenness, it comes with a sadness, because deep down somewhere, being brought forth of the same dust of the earth, I know that what I see is not right. This is not supposed to be. This is not nature being “natural”, but rather being cursed. It bears witness against me as a son of Adam. And thus, what hope could I possibly have in such a place, if it were not for the opportunity to die and resurrect as the son of Another (Rom. 8:19) who provides a very real shelter (Ps. 91:1) from this stormy cursed world? How blessed I am.

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