Last Sunday was Easter and I was, as the British might say, on holiday down in San Diego. Late in the afternoon, my friend and I were watching a movie in our room on the 25th floor of a nice hotel when I first felt the low rumble. That rumble quickly became a series of jolts and the room began to sway like a palm tree in the breeze. We darted out the door bumping into the walls as we tried to maneuver our way to the stairs. As we bounced like ping pong balls down that narrow shaft, I listened to a maid crying and praying in Spanish as she scurried along behind me.
Visitors from all across the United States gathered out in a back courtyard. With varying degrees of peace and confidence, we all had just experienced a major earthquake centered just 150 miles to our south. God was at work again as He allowed the massive tectonic plates to scrape against each other and toss the earth around as if it were a softball.
There have been a number of these large quakes lately. We all remember the massive damage left by the quake in Haiti. And, an 8.8 quake rocked the west coast of Chile a month or so ago. While that particular quake left far less damage to structures than the one in Haiti, it did cause an interesting phenomenon. According to www.cnn.com, that quake caused the earth’s axis to shift. It moved the city of Concepcion 10 feet to the west and shifted the capital, Santiago about 11 inches to the southwest.
Gigantic quakes like that one move large amounts of rock and therefore alter the distribution of the mass on our planet. That shifting of the earth’s axis will actually cause our days to be 1.26 microseconds shorter!
When you contemplate these forces of nature, it might drive you to consider the words of Matthew 24 where the Lord lists some of the signs of His coming. And yep, earthquakes are right there in verse 7. But before you get too excited, notice that He warns us that these are “…merely the beginning of birth pangs.”
So how are we to understand such massive forces of nature?
Well, after one of the aftershocks of the Baja earthquake woke me up a couple of mornings ago my thoughts turned to a marvelous old hymn, “This is my Father’s World.” At the turn of the 20th century, Maltbie Babcock, a pastor in New York used to announce before leaving on a walk, “I’m going out to see my Father’s world.” And later he penned these words:
This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears all nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres. This is my Father’s world; I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas, His hand the wonders wrought. This is my Father’s world; O let me ne’er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
A week ago, I wish that I would have had the presence of mind to turn around in that stair well and assure the young gal crying behind me that this is my Father’s world. He is indeed in charge. We cannot stop the shaking of the earth, but we can, with confidence, trust the one who holds us in the palm of His hand.
“This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad? The Lord is King, let the heavens ring. God reigns, let earth be glad.”