The Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
(Psalm 29:8, NIRV)
I had just drifted to sleep last night when I awoke to a familiar feeling. We were having an earthquake.
Earthquakes are nothing new to me. I've felt so many in my life that I can't remember a time when they were ever new. I was born and raised in Southern California. As children we learned in school what to do when "the big one" hits. I watched movies like Earthquake starring Charlton Heston without shock or horror. I happened to be at camp when the Northridge Earthquake hit January 17, 1994 at 4:30am. I had been asleep that night, too, until a girl in our cabin yelled, "We're all going to die." My friend expressed my sentiments on the experience when she yelled back at her to shut up. She then rolled over and returned to sleep. The next morning the camp showed the news coverage in the common room and we learned how serious the situation was. Even so, it was a part of the Southern California experience.
For over two decades the Northridge quake was what we compared all quakes to. In July 2019 I was watching a Dodger game and noticed the cameras begin to sway. Then a second later I felt it. It was not very strong at our home, but the news soon began to report the quake was centered in Ridgecrest. This is quite far from us, and so we knew it must have been strong to travel so far. Since we have friends who live there, we were concerned for their safety. We texted but got no response. For a moment, this seemed bad. Terrible, actually. We eventually learned our friends had been out of town. They were camping (and totally safe) without cell service.
All the chatter was immediately that it had been "bigger than Northridge." And it was! We would learn a few weeks later while passing through Las Vegas that they had also felt it. Imagine an earthquake that could be felt from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. The Ridgecrest earthquake is estimated to have caused $1 Billion in damage. That sounds like a lot until you compare it to the Northridge earthquake, which caused up to $44 Billion in damage (and, keep in mind, those are 1994 dollars). Why so much less damage from a larger earthquake?
Ridgecrest is the desert. There is less to destroy because there is less around.
I'm not going to say that yesterday's earthquake was God's doing. I don't think he's punishing a city for turning away from Him or sending down His wrath on Los Angeles.
I do believe that any time we are shaken (literally or figuratively), it is an opportunity to take stock of our lives. Where are we? Are we where we want to be? Are we where God wants us to be? Whether we are in the desert or the city, God's voice is there. He is prepared to meet us if call out to Him.