What!? Not Again!

Thursday, May 26, 2022

.

.

Drecho

It sounds like an onomatopoeia deleted expletive, but

it’s lots worse!

It will be a word that puts the fear in anyone hearing a drecho is approaching!

It’s just one new word that goes with an angry planet striking back.

Psalm 92:12-15

The righteous flourish like the palm tree, and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. In old age they still produce fruit; they are always green and full of sap, showing that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

John 16:22

So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Words of Grace For Today

Here it is again just like a storm that is about to level everything in its path: the righteous flourish and in old age they still produce fruit, always green and full of sap.

Well let me set the record straight. Yes, the Psalmist often gives great words of wisdom for us, but this! No. The righteous do not flourish, not like palm trees, not like cedars in Lebanon.

The righteous usually go down in flames as the world attacks them because we humans cannot stand to have someone around that is better than us. The righteous usually do not reach old age, so forget about flourishing in old age. It’s like being a bold pilot. Being righteous keeps one from getting old.

But take another step back: there really are no righteous people. We are all sinners, bound to sin no matter what we do and righteousness is only something God gives to us, substitutes for us ‘for the record’ even though the truth is we pretty much stank at everything we’ve done.

Or so our Lutheran faith might lead us to believe.

A bit more accurately we can say that no one is righteous on their own. Only by God’s grace do we do anything good. God’s grace abounds, so there are plenty of people doing good things. It’s just none of us are righteous apart from God working in us, and overall we remain sinners our whole life long, no matter what. No matter what!

So no one is righteous. Forgiven, Accepted, Adopted, Blessed, Loved, and Sent, but not really righteous.

One of the favourites sins of people (of all time, the Psalmist included) is to judge people, oneself included, and to come up with the results that I and mine are good enough to be righteous and them there over there, those other people are certainly not righteous. Us being righteous means we get to claim certain benefits, yada yuda, ladida yado.

There is, though, a promise in the Psalmist’ words, and it’s not to be missed.

As God makes us righteous, we are planted in God’s court, and even in old age, the God-made-righteous will still produce fruit (that is, good works by God’s grace!)

Lots of things go by the wayside and are lost as one ages. Don’t I know, as I struggle to run with pained knees before I remember (I used to know this without remembering) that I’ve given up running to preserve my health and ability to walk into old age (though I feel it’s more like a slide on a banana peel right through old age into the gaping wide and deep grave.)

It’s nice to know, actually it’s about as precious as can be, that God keeps the grace flowing into and through us even as we age. Grace is not something we lose as we age, since it’s not dependent on us, but comes from God.

Jesus broadens the promise. Life is tough and there will be lots of pain, like in the knees and everywhere including the poor old heart ticking away -only sometimes taking a break for a few minutes to rest. – Through all the pain we shall survive and come to see Jesus again, and have our full joy returned to us.

That I can go for

and trust no matter what comes my way, even a drecho.

God knows there is enough shtako and sin coming right at me!

And at all of us!

Only because God by grace makes us righteous, we know to say:

God is our rock, and there is no unrighteousness in God.

That has to be more than enough to start off a new day!

Enduring Less Than 30 Meters

Sunday, May 22, 2022

From on the Water,

the Sun Rises

Also

Over the Campers Parked Within 5 Metres

of the Protected Water.

Job 10:12

You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit.

James 5:11

Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

Words of Grace For Today

Job showed great endurance, suffering greater losses and illness and pain than most of us care to imagine. Endurance is a gift from God, as it is fueled by faith, as Job’s demonstrated.

What are we to do when the earth and it’s fragile systems cannot endure the onslaught we have brought against her?

In Canada the law has sought to protect bodies of water and the fragile ecosystems on their shores by proscribing camping within 30 meters of a body of water and driving through any waterway.

Here the area used by many campers each summer is a random camping area, which used to be a municipal campground decades ago before it was handed back over to the province to ‘care for’ as Crown Land. Signs ask that people respect the land, not cut down trees for firewood (logs already on the ground can be used for firewood), stay no longer than 14 days, and take out with them everything they bring in.

Still many leave garbage, unbelievable garbage behind, stay months on end (it’s supposedly their right!) and they hack down living trees and worse scar trees so that in a few years they will die, and generally show great disrespect for the land, tearing it up with motorized deep tread tires among many other things. What no sign says is that camping is prohibited within 30 metres of the shoreline, and scores of campers dig up the sand to park within 10 meters of the shore everything from subcompact cars with tents to 50 foot 5th wheel campers.

This first long weekend, the start of the camping season for many, is certainly no exception. Only noteworthy is that there are ‘only’ ten vehicles parked within 20 meters of the shore, and only two larger camper units within 10 metres. That will change, for the worse … or for the better … as the summer progresses?

One can only hope.

And trust that as the Lord is compassionate and merciful so too will the enforcement officers first be clear with what is legal and what is not, and then be compassionate and merciful, but not afraid to ban people who cannot seem to learn to camp responsibly and respectfully.

Now excessive noise from partying and quads or side-by-sides that do not have sufficient mufflers are another problem, as is the public drinking, that is the drinking of alcoholic beverages anywhere other than in one’s own camping area, which begins to beg the question if there are ten units parked around one campfire, is all that drinking still at each person’s campsite? Stretch it far enough and anyone can drink anywhere in the whole random camping area. Or rather, that is how far it is stretched and tolerated by any enforcement persons I’ve ever witnessed out here. Some of the partiers are off-duty enforcement officers.

So we will endure, for the damage is not to us, but to the land … as long as God keeps the craziness of these ‘illegal’ campers at a great distance from us. After all, compassionate and merciful as God calls us also to be does not mean that we need to be ignorant, naive, or stupid about other’s stupidities, does it?

We pray the earth will endure, for generations and generations to come, so that they can enjoy the beauty of such a camping area.

This day will be marvellous, a wonder to behold, in spite of the disrespect so plentiful here.

Selah.

Surrender to Be Reborn

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Cool Fires to Prevent Hot Wildfires

Micah 5:3

Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labour has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel.

John 12:24

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Words of Grace For Today

How is it that we make progress forward, onward in life, by surrendering, even dying, as we wait for a saviour to be born, as we wait for the fruit of our sacrifices to grow among the peoples?

This is an out-of-the-ordinary path to follow, to give up, wait, and then be handed victory.

Or is it?

In wars, the strategies of winners have often been to sacrifice many battles, and many lives, in order to win the war, and, as they always say to justify the sacrifices, to save so many more lives and our ‘freedom’, our way of life (which usually means our people get to be the master who abuse and exploit and leave in poverty the great masses of people for whom the war was supposedly fought.)

In God’s good creation there are examples everywhere of life, of flora and fauna, is ended precisely in order that new life can be born and flourish better than it was before. Seeds are a simple ubiquitous example.

Another pressing example is the use of cool fires, cultural fires, to prevent hot, destructive wildfires. The western world exploits and controls nature to provide energy and progress towards … well towards what. Now we see nature (God’s good creation) boomeranging back on us. We sought to stop all destructive fires, pulled energy out of the ground in the form of coal and oil to do work for us that we simply could not do for ourselves, and used ‘inputs’ into farm land like never before to produce enough food to feed the population growing and doubling in less than 100 years!

‘Mother Nature’, or simple God’s good creation, is struggling to survive this human onslaught. Climates change melting waters from the polar caps that will flood hundreds of the biggest cities in the world and displace 100s of millions of people.

Brisbane Australia 2011 Flooding,

Just One Small Example of Seas Taking Over

Weather patterns change, bring wet climates to previously drier climates and impossibly wet climates and flooding to livable climates … and drought and wildfires to areas previously drier but livable. New deserts are being formed. Wildfires only start by devastating huge areas of land, many larger than a circle taking in Albany NY and Philadelphia PA, or most of England, or about the distance from Athabasca to High River (taking in both Calgary and Edmonton) or more than from Vegreville to Jasper. The smoke from the fires disrupts life down wind for thousands of miles. A wildfire creates its own thunderclouds and lightning, which can start more wildfires. While the land does come back, sometimes, the fires are very hot, very destructive, more so than the flora needs. Fauna can be wiped out not to return.

Seeds must die into the ground to sprout as new life.

Land must burn to rejuvenate some trees and bushes, and to avoid the devastating destruction of wildfires.

Nature responds to unrestrained human exploitation by flooding out the major cities along all coastlines. Fewer humans give the ecosystems of the world a better chance of surviving the human onslaughts. Instead of the human species being extinct or decimated to a few million, a quarter of the present population may survive the next 200 years!

And what of us, now?

As always, God works to bring to an end our hubris and hellbent destruction of ourselves and others around us, by sacrificing Jesus’ life, replacing our terrible records with Jesus’ (forgiving us) so that we might live, renewed and freed from the unbearable burdens of our own sins … so that we might start to live, at least a bit, as God intended us to live: gently gracious, loving and forgiving, trusting and hope-filled for our unsure futures.

Listen to the ‘Jellyfish’

Sunday, January 2, 2022

no need to go batty

whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s

Deuteronomy 32:39

See now that I, even I, am he; there is no god besides me. I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and no one can deliver from my hand.

Romans 14:8

If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

Words of Grace For Today

When the jellyfish came up out of the lake, crawling on all 10 feet, it posed a question that deserves our attention:

What will you do about the rats’ snot that collects on the lower branches of the olive trees, making the collection of sap from the neighbouring maples impossible until fall and then it’s too late, for the time for the amendment of life will have passed us by in the wrong lane?

It’s not a simple question, not like ‘what are we to do with the nuclear wastes from our personal nuclear power pockets that we all carry on our backs to propel us through time and space as we are wont and as we will at the time – or place – that used to be when-where we were?’

That waste … well we can either feed that waste back into our personal reactor for another go at atomizing-chaos-reordering, or we can simply make a quick visit to the nearest sun, deposit our waste in that reaction and then get out so quick it does not consume us for all time in all of space the size of one Adam.

The snotty question of the jelly fish is really the same question that keeps coming up again and again, which we find so hard to state as it is, because .. well we find it so hard because the obvious answer is that we’ve warped the time-space continuum so completely out of whack from it’s original bends and turns that the extreme cases of mist-ordered events and consequences from last year keep getting dwarfed by new extreme event-consequences this year. After a century or two of these it’s pretty hard to catch where the mist is coming from and how the events are consequences or vice versa. It’s just that three orders of species, of the twenty that remain, rely on maple syrup for proper nurturing. And the projections of the best scientists-artists are that any fewer than twenty orders of species and the whole ecosystem of all the various iterations of earth will simply dissolve. It’s like the warnings that no one heeded about climate change and the ice melt of Greenland and Antarctica. But that was centuries ago, or yesterday, depending on where in time one lands or begins.

The only sure thing in this mess we seem to have made of the universe is that God did create it, and whether we live or die we are Christ’s own people, so totally flawed and living by Grace alone.

It’s that Grace that gives us a reference point, the only available reference point in the messed-warped time-place continuum. What is done is done. What is coming will still come. We have now, and only in our now can we make choices, and pray that, also dealing with rat snot, they will reflect God’s Will to give life and heal, and not harm and kill even if it seems it is all impossible to cure of evil.

God Created Also This!

Saturday, December 18, 2021

G g g g g good Morning!

(It ain’t Vietnam!)

Genesis 5:2

Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them ‘Humankind’ when they were created.

Jude 1:2

May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.

Words of Grace For Today

It’s c c c cold outside.

God created this?!

God created us to share one another’s company so that we could warm each other against the cold?

Would that even help in this cold of below -30⁰ C?

Maybe a little, but certainly not enough, unless …

unless one of us is able to plan and prepare and build a shelter that can be warmed by heating fuel to the burning point … safely.

So the wood stove gobbles up wood and produces heat, mostly safely (if one is particularly alert to the immediate dangers of burning the whole thing down or gassing the occupants with carbon monoxide or … well there is a whole host of dangers to be avoided while heating a stove to 400⁰C and a chimney to 2000⁰ C

and there are benefits, like sitting in a sauna after jumping through the ice into the lake.

Not that I have a sauna or a hole in the ice, nor the foolishness in these temperatures to jump in such a hole! But walking outside is bracing and then biting and then dangerous, so it’s nice to know the ‘wood eating monster’ has done it’s thing well and 40⁰C awaits me to warm up by. Of course the floor temperatures are anywhere from 20⁰ to 60⁰ cooler than at head level. At Advent we remember that God comes to level … well, this variation could use some levelling!

Still, we breathe and live, and marvel at systems that work in such cold were metal looses half its strength and oil congeals and skin freezes in minutes or seconds.

So we give thanks that God’s mercy, peace, and love are ours in abundance!

And we pray that they may be yours as well!

God Works. We Have Hope!

Monday, November 15, 2021

As the Snow Covers Everything Announcing Winter’s Dark-Cold’s A’comin’

We Remember God’s Work in Our Past

And Know

That Spring Will Come.

So God Will Melt Our Hard Hearts

To Give Us New Life.

Ezekiel 36:36

Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places, and replanted that which was desolate; I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it.

Acts 11:20-21

But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord.

Words of Grace For Today

God works.

We work.

When God works we often do not see anything happen.

When we work, especially in committees, we often do not see anything happen.

When I work and I don’t see anything happen as a result, it’s a bad, bad day, because my work is all the about the basics of staying alive: gathering wood, building shelter, building systems to support life, hauling supplies like water and food, cutting and splitting wood, feeding the ‘monster’ wood so it produces heat, repairing systems that support life that will stop supporting life if they are not fixed or already have not only stopped but started to endanger life because they are broken, reading and writing so that my spirit does not succumb to my enemies attacks on me, praying, celebrating, resting and sleeping (though the last are hardly work per se.)

When God works, and we open our eyes, sometimes we see the results: nations are moved, mountains are levelled or reformed, planets and stars are created or destroyed or transformed, hearts are enlivened after being hard as granite, people eat and drink and celebrate who were thirsting and starving to death, people are healed and given new life, saints are called home and given their reward for eternity, and the beauty of creation comes crashing into our minds transforming us from despairing to caught in wonder.

When we work and we see results, our efforts and results are minuscule in comparison. We sell things to people with pets, or without. We buy things that we need or do not need. We use or abuse resources and are renewable or non-renewable. We pollute ourselves to death burning coal and natural gas, consuming disposable plastics, or setting radioactive atoms to react hopefully always in a controlled manner but that is not our record. We set people against people with weapons capable of destroying whole populations and de-storying masses (genocide.) We construct highways and airplanes and rocket-ships that invite people to increase their carbon footprint – because ‘it’s there.’ We build cities that will flood as the planet warms and the oceans rise, a result of our carbon mega-footprints and billions of smaller footprints that add up to more than than our host planet can accommodate without changing even that which we rely on for life. And our ‘marvellous’ accomplishments fill a listing that seems endless … and always has an end that reads ‘which leads to the extinction of humans on planet earth, and before that the cessation of human and animal life as we know it.’

Is there any hope for us?

Is there any hope for planet earth?

Is there any hope?

Thank God, God responds to our destructive, sinful ways of working by promising: I, the Lord, will have rebuilt the ruined places, and replanted that which was desolate!

God works … and it is always good.

We work … and it is almost always destructive … unless God directs and we cooperate as the Holy Spirit moves in and through us.

Is there any hope?

Only because of God’s promises to be Gracious with us … again and again and again. And when God works it happens, sometimes from the most surprising corners of the earth as foreigners come to share the Good News with us, we who hunger and thirst to hear and know the old, old story is for us, too.

Knowing Love … Being Love

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

One Last Canoe Ride

Before the Snow Blows In.

A Long Autumn,

Climate Change Again.

Jeremiah 18:14-15

Does the snow of Lebanon leave the crags of Sirion? Do the mountain waters run dry, the cold flowing streams? But my people have forgotten me, they burn offerings to a delusion; they have stumbled in their ways, in the ancient roads, and have gone into bypaths, not the highway.

John 15:9

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.

Words of Grace For Today

The snow today, which has collected as glaciers for hundreds of years, now does melt away, faster and faster. We, with our carbon footprint so huge, have discombobulated nature’s way. The mountain waters do run dry where they have not in memory done so before.

Just as we have messed with nature’s balances, so we have imbalanced our own lives, living as slaves of delusions, voluntarily enslaving ourselves to wealth, power, status, and the illusion that we are better than others whom we ruin on our way through life.

There is another way to live.

As God loves Jesus, so Jesus loves us. When we humbly accept that there is nothing else so important in life as being loved by God, and returning that love (by sharing God’s love with all other people) then we live as we are created to live and we contribute to the balance of nature. We do not just lower our carbon footprint. We drastically change how we live and what we expect from life in order to drastically lower our carbon footprint, and we reach as many people as we can to inspire them to do the same.

Maybe some people think that all those who enslave themselves to wealth, power, status and delusions will respond to messages of the impending doom we are creating for ourselves. It rarely works, for their closed looped thought processes cannot calculate how to serve their chosen masters and respond to the impending doom for us all. Instead they ramp up their delusions to accumulate more wealth, power, status, and their favourite delusion in order to convince themselves that the impending doom will not impact them. It will, but deluded they believe it will not, just as Covidiots and Covid deniers and antivaxxers who lay dying of Covid still refuse to believe they have Covid or that they can be dying. They die a painful death, and an avoidable death, leaving so many Covidiots and Covid deniers and antivaxxers ready to carry on in their footsteps.

This is not a good life, and certainly not a good death.

Knowing God loves us, knowing that God knows us completely and blesses us by walking with us, and knowing the Holy Spirit makes us able to love others and walk with them through life’s challenges, rewards, and losses … knowing God’s love gives us hope. And hope gives us life renewed each morning.

For this we can give God endless thanks and praise … and we can be filled with joy, no matter what our enemies do to us. It does not get better.

Self-Pity for Our ‘Little Bush’

Sunday, October 3, 2021

These Trees Will Soon Fall to Erosion by the Lakeshore

Shall We Consume Ourselves in Lament for Them?

Or

Get about Bringing Climate Change to an End?

And Pandemics?

Shall We End Them

Before They End Us?

Jonah 4:10-11

Then the Lord said, ‘You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labour and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?’

James 5:11

Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

Words of Grace For Today

We ought to be concerned (as God tells Jonah) not just for our little ‘tree’, our little corner of life. Rather we MUST be concerned for the whole nation, or rather, the whole earth.

Make that we ought to be alarmed in concern for the whole world.

Climate change is still denied by politicians, as if it would go away, as if is somehow not so clear that ‘the planet is angry at us’ as last year’s extremes are this year’s normals, and this year’s extremes are next year’s normals. Soon it will be last month’s extremes become this month’s normals … and on until we will have an impossible task of finding refuge on our own planet, anywhere.

The pandemic, Covid 19 is in it’s fourth wave in North America, and we seem to be preparing to suffer worse pandemics, perhaps even simultaneous pandemics, in the very near future … our future. No more of the ‘one pandemic in a century or so’. And we remain fully unprepared and unwilling to prepare and do what is necessary to prepare. We have leaders who ‘wish’ this Covid-19 away, and in doing so invite an even more brutal wave upon us all.

See the article in the Atlantic by Ed Yong https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2021/09/america-prepared-next-pandemic/620238/ if you wish to read it put even more bluntly.

We can certainly trust that God is compassionate and merciful and we can use Job’s endurance as a role model. Doch! We ought not invite such great need for God’s compassion and mercy, nor for Job-like endurance, down upon so many of the earth’s whopping 7.4 billion and growing population.

We may not have planned this population overburdening of the planet, but we certainly knew it was coming and we collectively did very little about it, least nothing effective!

Sitting ‘where our bush used to give us shade,’ wallowing in our self-pity does no one any good. We need to get up and proclaim the Good News and God’s judgment for ‘Nineveh,’ whatever that will look like for us. We pray that we may see God at work as God worked through Jonah’s speaking to Nineveh!

No one would dare to venture on such a mission, without trusting God’s grace, abundant and endless, flowing for us all.

So what are we waiting for?

Not On Our Own!

Monday, September 13, 2021

All that Grows

Grows as God’s Blessing

for All

Isaiah 45:8

Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation may spring up, and let it cause righteousness to sprout up also; I the Lord have created it.

2 Corinthians 9:10

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

Words of Grace For Today

After a cold hard-frozen winter, the thaw of spring arrives giving respite for hearts and bodies. As the cool spring days lengthen melting the snow pack, the ground thaws and seeds await the soft May rains and warm sun to germinate, we anticipate the new growth of wild and cultured seeds into plants to provide food for the many creatures of the earth, including us humans.

We trust that God will provide, in these days, throughout the whole earth, enough warmth, sun, and soft rain to feed the 7.4 billion humans who inhabit the earth. Climate change challenges the growth of enough to feed us all, though even in the many years when there is enough to feed everyone, we fail to distribute the food to all so that no one goes hungry. Indeed millions starve each year!

Food to eat is essential to life.

As we see each day, food is not enough. Food is not even the most essential thing for life. Much more essential is that we live in God’s blessings and respond to God’s Grace with justice based on truth, loving words and actions based on righteousness, and unconditional love for all people (a love that reflects God’s grace for us sinners).

Often our work, on Christ’s behalf in this world, is often described with images of seeds sprouting, growing, and producing a harvest to feed all people.

So it is that, while we give our greatest will and efforts towards fulfilling Christ’s call to reflect God’s love for us in our efforts for all people, we know that we cannot complete this work on our own. In fact, just as the seeds do not exist, nor can they begin to germinate, until God provides warm sun and sufficient moisture (not to mention that in previous years the harvest must have produced enough to provide seeds for the new spring.)

So we pray, God, creator of all that is, plant in us the seeds of righteousness, that with the warmth of Christ’s Light and the moisture in the Holy Spirit’s breathing into us, your Word may grow in us, and that our lives (our thoughts, words and actions) may reflect what we cannot even see on our own, namely your love and grace for all people.

God Blesses Us Despite What We Do!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

A Beaver

Giving Warning.

Do We Heed God’s Warnings? NO!

Yet God Continues to Bless Us!

Psalm 91:14

Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name.

1 John 3:21-22

Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.

Words of Grace For Today

Julie and Greg sought refuge from the heat, well over 35⁰ each day from 8:00 to 20:00 or later making sleeping difficult, and at best restless. The packed up their little camper behind the truck and headed out to a lake more than an hour away, since all the campgrounds at other lake closer were overfilled. There was no proper campground, just crown land where random camping was allowed.

They were hardly the first to arrive, and most of the possible sites were filled and overfilled with others seeking relief from the heat and being cooped up for more than a year with the covid19 restrictions. With luck, or was it a pure blessing, they arrived just minutes after another family left one of the furthest campsites, one set among birch trees on a hill more than 50 feet above the lake. They settled in and carried their canoe down near the four log steps to the water.

For a week they ‘enjoyed’ temperatures that did not climb above 32⁰ and nights that cooled off after sunset at 21:30 to the high teens, making sleeping a wonderful and restful reprieve. The first few days they recovered and found wonder in the relative cool nights, and the canoe outings during the hottest part of the day into the cooler air above the water. They knew that God had delivered them.

Then they became accustom to the reprieve, and noticed the challenges of camping: the swarms of mosquitoes morning and evening made being outside less than comfortable, the flies that chewed small chunks right out of their arms, checks and even eyelids, and the bees and wasps whose stings they were allergic to. Then there were the late night parties from the other parts of the campground that seemed to never end until the sun rose; a downside of uncontrolled camping producing loud music and fireworks at all late hours! The quads, dirt bikes, and side by sides chewed up the dirt right before their camper, blowing exhaust into their camper at any hour. They became complainers instead of giving God thanks.

Saturday afternoon all that complaining ended with a real danger. The emergency broadcast service rang out from their cell phones: a tornado warning! A funnel was sighted moving fast NW just 30 miles away to the SW of their precious campsite. There was no basement or building to hide in against the SW wall. They did what they could. They pulled their hand-made cedar strip canoe high away from the lake and secured it among some strong trees and bush. The parked the truck on the lakeside of the camper, opened it’s windows and all the windows on the camper (to prevent the severe drop and rise in air pressure from blowing up either the truck or camper.) Taking a larger tarp they found where a tree’s roots had been ripped out leaving a depression, laid down the tarp, sat and laid in on it, and covered themselves with the tarp to protect themselves from the rain that pelted sideways at them in the high wind.

The last thing they saw before covering themselves was a funnel approach the other side of the lake, tossing trees out of it’s path like toothpicks, and throwing a great blinding spray of water that hid everything from sight as it came across the lake. The deafening sound grew until it went totally quiet, not from lack of sound but from the pressure built in their eardrums that made hearing anything impossible. In their bones they felt instead of heard the roar, the explosions and earth shaking thuds, and then the stillness ….

When they uncovered themselves all the trees for 100 yards in all directions were gone, in their place were shreds of logs piled in places like matchsticks poured out of their box by a child playing with danger.

They walked back to where they had laid their canoe. Miraculously the trees were gone, but the bush remained covering their untouched, precious canoe. In that same moment they recognized behind a jumble of logs their camper, and then their truck, both untouched by the destruction.

In the rest of the random campground 4 people were killed, 10 others injured, and many vehicles and camping units were damaged or totally destroyed. Some trees, though not many, remained standing as before. The shoreline was hidden beneath a mess of bush, logs, and the remains of boats that had been in the water or on shore. Julie and Greg used their truck to transport 8 people to the hospital and then a second trip with the other 2 less severely injured and 2 bodies they had found.

For weeks after both Julie and Greg, knowing that their sins were many and varied, knew that many days they had done nothing to please God, yet God had delivered them. They were alive. Their precious canoe, truck, and camper were undamaged. They were the only family camping that completely escaped damage or injury of some kind. They did not deserve this, so they gave God thanks, with words each morning and night, and with acts of kindness for others, helping others recover property, and cleaning up the camping area as they could. Somehow the heat that had returned, the mosquitoes, flies, bees and wasps that continued to swarm, and the parties that people somehow continued to hold each evening made little difference.

The goodness of life itself outshone all the challenges, obstacles, and ugliness around them.

Julie and Greg knew that God blessed them not because of what they had done, or not done, but simply because God so chose to bless them. They learned, slowly as the blessed shock of surviving unscathed, how to reflect God’s blessings in their daily lives, how to maintain their gratitude for each breathe and moment of life, and how to shine undeserved grace to other people.

Even scripture, given to humans to write, can be wrong when it somehow conveys that God blesses us because we obey his commandments and do what pleases God.

First God blesses us. Then like Julie and Greg we slowly learn to obey and do what pleases God. And we inevitably revert to our old ways of complaining about life and doing all things only for ourselves, until God surprises us with an undeserved blessing, so that we slowly learn again to obey and do what please God…. Until we inevitably revert to our old ways … and God surprises us again and again with undeserved blessings.