The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave… ~ 1 Kings 19:11-13
This really struck me when I first read it. Maybe we have it all wrong when we refer to events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires as “acts of God.”
In this story about the prophet Elijah, God wasn’t in the wind that came first. He wasn’t in the earthquake that followed. And He wasn’t in the fire after that.
What God was in was the “gentle whisper.”
With the recent tragedy in Nashville, Tennessee, it’s important to remember that God was not in the tornadoes. He is in the spirit of the resilient community that steps up to help their neighbors and the people they don’t know. He is in the compassion shown by people from miles away that have no connection to Nashville but want to step up and help.
On Sunday the world found out that beloved NBA superstar Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash. If that wasn’t tragic enough, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others, including a wife, husband and daughter, were also killed.
It shook so many of us. It didn’t matter if we were an NBA fan or if we had ever seen Kobe play. The tragedy was shocking for several reasons. Here were 9 vibrant people suddenly taken, each leaving behind many loved ones and family members. Kobe Bryant represented someone who was, for lack of a better term, “on top of the world.” But, his wealth and fame couldn’t prevent his life from ending at only 41.
NFL player and pro-life advocate Ben Watson summed it up perfectly in a Facebook post:
“There is nothing more common to the human experience than death. It touches everyone and everything on this planet. It is a part of life yet it is a fear evoking, painful mystery that we rarely get accustomed to. For many of us it looms in the distance, quarantined in the dark corners of the mind until suddenly our own mortality grabs us unexpectedly and stares us squarely in the face. Over 150,000 people die daily, largely unnoticed, but when icons expire unexpectedly it shakes our souls. If someone in good health, adored by millions across the globe, who had reached the pinnacle of earthly success, could not extend his days what hope do any of us have in this journey called life?!
The tragic loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others reminds me of my own mortality. And it’s scary. I do not fear what happens after physical life but on days like today I do fear the uncertainty of the process and the circumstances surrounding it. Days like today remind me that life is a vapor. We are here today and gone tomorrow yet sometimes we live as if tomorrow is promised, so engulfed with the worries, desires, and frivolous pursuits of life that we lose sight of the missions, callings and divine purposes of our existence. True age is not calculated by years on the planet. In actuality, we are as old or young as our expiration date. Days like today remind us that unlike many other things in life, no one knows the day or hour of his last breath.
We all have an appointment with death that we can not cancel. It is appointed for man to die once and then the judgement. As final as it seems from this side of the chasm, physical death is not the end but a continuation of life; a transition from the mortal into the eternal. We will all live forever either in the glorious presence of our Creator and King or in eternal separation from Him. As the sand trickles through the hour glass, the most pressing question of life is not quantified by materials acquired, relationships cultivated, or goodness imparted. Our justification before a holy God, our life eternal, can only be acquired through repentance and faith in the shed blood of His Son; a free gift of salvation for all who believe.
Days like today call for raw emotional response and loving embraces, prayer and solemn reflection. They feel surreal until tomorrow’s morning concretizes their reality. May the Lord bring comfort to the friends family and loved ones of the Bryant’s, Altobelli’s and other victims in this time of tremendous grief.