On May 3rd of this year, the Kilauea volcano erupted on the island of Hawai’i, causing major ongoing damage as fissures exploded open, spewing lava accompanied by toxic gases. Actually, this was simply a much larger convulsion in what has been an active volcanic zone since 1983. To date, about 75 structures have been destroyed and 2,500 residents evacuated. Overnight, paradise turned to purgatory. This is a war zone with the fierce forces of nature, and we’re losing. Scientists say there’s no end in sight to this dramatic tour de force.
Every now and again, nature’s volatility reminds us that we’re not really running the show. While it’s true that almost any territory on the planet comes rife with its own particular peril, some places are far more prone than others. Everywhere, living is risky…but do you have to build on the edge of a volcano? On the U.S. eastern seaboard million-dollar mansions line the shore, even though there’s a long history of fierce hurricanes pummeling destruction on a regular basis. Why? They’ve just got to have the view. It’s the cache of having that coveted, status, beach-front property, perched precariously on the razor edge of uncertainty. As they say in real estate…location, location, location. This question in fact, features largely in one of Jesus’ most graphic parables. Apparently, real estate is everything.
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” Matthew 7:23-27
That’s a warning about choosing the underpinnings of your life carefully. Jesus promises to be an unfailing foundation, a navigator in the storm. In this world, we need solid, unchangeable things we can count on. You can be tra-la-la-ing along on your own steam, building your castles in the sand, oblivious to impending devastation. It’s lovely to have a scenic nest, but you’d better ask yourself, “is this where I’m supposed to be?”
It isn’t only the larger picture of where your house is located. It’s also the question of where your desire is taking you. What environments and circumstances are you partnering with? These can also lead us away from the sanctified ground of God’s protection onto turf where the enemy can take us out. Jesus makes penetrating statements about choices made on a daily basis. In Luke 13:1-5, some questioned him as to why horrible, undeserving things happened to good people.
“Jesus turned and asked the crowd, “Do you believe that the slaughtered Galileans were the worst sinners of all the Galileans? No, they weren’t! So listen to me. Unless you all repent, you will perish as they did. Or what about the eighteen who perished when the tower of Siloam fell upon them? Do you really think that they were more guilty than all of the others in Jerusalem?””
His answer seems extremely enigmatic, but the word repent actually means ‘to turn and change direction’. We use it in the religious context of ‘to change one’s mind or purpose’. Looking at the whole picture, you could interpret His answer this way; they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, due to their (unwise) choices. As unpalatable as this thought may be, it’s fatally easy to be lured by our own desires or foolishly manipulated by others onto territory we should never enter. However innocent we are, we become collateral damage, when the actions of the unscrupulous or downright abominable reap their rightful end.
One phone call, one encounter, one rhema, and you will escape “the snare of the fowler” (Psalm 91:3), but you’ve got to be paying attention. Countless times in my life, God’s warning has sent me scurrying away from the storm-front no one could see, before it broke. His counsel preserved me from the enemy laying in ambush. In very real, practical ways, he has kept my feet from the paths of the tyrant. When obedience brought me to some spiritual cul de sac that I despaired of ever be released from, He showed me the exit. If the Lord brings you somewhere, it’s His business to get you out, and He does. I’m not going to stop honing this listening until ‘my house’ rests secure on the high places of our intense fellowship. That’s what Moses is talking about when he describes the impenetrable sanctuary of abiding in Him (Psalm 91). I won't stop until there is “rest on every side, with neither adversary nor evil occurant” (1 Kings 5:4).
Blessedly, it isn’t only disaster that can overtake us. We need to be correctly positioned for the visitation of God; His intervention in human affairs. Like a volcano, He too can break forth with spectacularly little warning. Not often, but dramatically, the lord makes an entrance, leveling everything that is not birthed from His Spirit. You can be plodding along, hopeless, when wondrously, the tectonic plates shift and your landscape transforms entirely. Things you thought would not, could not ever change, rapidly morph into the miraculous. Why? You were positioned in His grace.
Good, better, best. The choices of life are many and difficult, but we don’t need to live our lives under the shadow of fear, no matter how menacing the arena we’re called to. There’s no doubt that Hawaii is a glamour spot to live, a paradise much coveted. If the Lord placed you there, He's your refuge in the lava flow. Despite any looming threats, the unassailable place is still the centre of His will, because our God is a consuming fire.