As many of you know, Janet and I moved to Santa Rosa in northern California this past April. After spending almost our whole lives in the Los Angeles area, this move brought a lot of changes. But one we certainly didn’t foresee was the catastrophic spread of wildfires we saw this past week.
First of all, we are okay. We live about half a mile outside of the evacuation zone so didn’t have to flee, but we have been without power most of the week and are still without gas. Many thanks to those of you who checked in to offer us rooms or other forms of help.
What really strikes me about this situation is how everything can change in an instant. There really is no guarantee of tomorrow. As it is written in James 4:13-15:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
Even in the midst of incredible devastation around us, what’s been truly amazing is to see how everyone—people, businesses, churches—are all doing what they can to pitch in and help. We donated all of the food in our refrigerator and freezer (since our electricity was out). And in turn were blessed by a nearby hotel (that did have electricity) laying out a spread of food for anyone who needed it. It was encouraging to see everyone doing what they could.
Janet offered to help at a nearby shelter. I tried my best to carry on with my commitments this week. My trainer offered her house for me to be able to get online and carry out a video conference call. While I was doing that, another family showed up that had fled the fires, making for a total of five stressed out kids and two barking dogs. Yet after helping them get settled, I found I was able to concentrate on my calls in spite of the noise and chaos around me.
I’ve had a surprising sense of peace this week. I think it’s connected to considering what I can control and what I can’t and then focusing my energy on what I can do—how I can contribute and live out what God is calling me to do. It’s been a matter of focusing on what’s in my control and what’s most important. And truly, when significant troubles hit, most of us find we are happy with very little. Many people had to flee their homes with one minute’s notice. So we would do well to pack light as we go through life. We are only here for a season.