Today, at 1:52 p.m., 4 miles southwest of Mineral, VA, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake rocked the east coast of our nation. I immediately started getting emails and texts from my clients and friends out there who let me know that they were okay – and that was a relief. But to be sure, I didn’t feel the quake here in Indianapolis. In fact, until the notices started coming in, I had not heard about the events of early this afternoon.
At first, I was a little confused. Friends in New Jersey and New York were evacuated from buildings, but then I heard reports that the earthquake was centered toward Washington, DC. My first impulse was to question how people in New York City could feel something that happened so many miles away in Washington. Then I heard that the National Cathedral in Washington had been damaged when capstones from 3 of it’s 4 spires fell off – and cracks were discovered in the upper floors, although so far, no damage has been detected to the stained glass windows. The government buildings, museums and even national monuments and parks were closed in a protective measure to insure the safety of the American public.
A large number of people reported that the Washington Monument was leaning to the right, and all the cellular networks were overburdened with folks trying to call out – or in – to loved ones in an effort to connect, as we all try to do when a crisis occurs. Later reports confirmed that the Monument was still standing straight.
This evening, although it is subject to change, we are being told that the official reading of the quake is a 5.9. Initial reports pegged it at 5.8-6.0 so 5.9 sounds like the democratic thing to settle on, don’t you think? The epicenter was listed in Virginia, northwest of Richmond, and people in more than 20 states felt the 45 second quake. One of the more interesting reports I read indicated that a woman reporter in New York received twitter messages from Washington that a quake was in progress, and then several seconds later, she felt the earth move under her own feet. Many east coast airports, including Newark, NJ, into which I fly frequently, were closed and the air traffic control tower was evacuated.
Apparently, an interesting fact about today is that the quake was only .6 miles under the surface of the earth, which made the impact much more noticeable to those in the path of the tremors. But I am still amazed about the great distance over which the quake was felt, and it seems natural to figure that with the concentration of people on the east coast of our nation, probably close to 50% of the entire population of the country must have been impacted.
Late this afternoon, and into this evening, I kept thinking about how huge this seismic event really was. Due to the rural area where the quake was centered, it seems that damage to the immediate area was minimal, and since there were no buildings taller than 2 stories in the vicinity, it would appear that once again, the country got lucky. Of course, all I could think of was how awesome God is and that He could make this happen without skipping a beat. And as I thought about the power of what had happened, I had to turn to the Scriptures, and I knew right where to go.
I was immediately drawn to the book of Job in the Old Testament of the Bible. For those of you who might not be familiar with the story, Job was a man of God, who became the focus of an odd experiment by Satan. According to Scripture, Satan wanted to test Job, and God let Satan proceed with his experiment as long as Satan didn’t kill Job. The first several chapters of the book are a little scary, as Satan actually goes to heaven to get God’s consent to harm Job. Job loses his family, his animals and his riches. Then, the center of the book is a little on the dull side – with three of Job’s friends trying to figure out what Job must have done for God to allow him to suffer so much. And they try to convince Job that he must have sinned, while Job maintains his innocence. Nobody can figure it out.
Then, in a remarkable turn, Job questions God and God unleashes his wrath on Job. Starting in Chapter 38, we are told that God answers Job out of the storm. God, in Job 38:4-6, says, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—” This sounds to me like God could produce an earthquake, don’t you think? After all, only He knows the foundations of the earth and where the footings of the earth are set. Wow – God really can shake the earth! So once again, I am in awe of God’s creation and His incredible control over nature and each of us. Whether it was random chance or God at work today, it really doesn’t matter.
My encouragement tonight is that God is still on the throne; and today, we had just a small demonstration of the awesome power and control that God holds in His hand. Because God is omnipotent (all-powerful), as well as omnipresent (present everywhere) and omniscient (all knowing). It’s important to remember that God spoke the entire world into existence – just by talking! And while I may not understand even a small portion of what God does, I know that some day I will stand in His presence and He will provide the answers to my questions. My prayer is that until that time, God’s grace will be sufficient for us – and that we can all live in awesome expectation of eternity to come. Grace and peace….