This is Tuscaloosa, Alabama a few hours ago. My wife has friends and family there, and the news isn’t good. The city is devastated, with several buildings simply gone. It only gets worse from there; the damage across the state, and all over the Southeast, is unspeakable. And it touches home in so many ways – our associate pastor’s wife has family in Cordova, Alabama and while her family is safe, she’s heard that her hometown has been obliterated. And the night isn’t over yet.
The storm line is moving rapidly into Atlanta, where I live, and the news reporters are all over the TV trying to emphasize just what’s coming our way. In some ways, it feels like a scene from an apocalyptic movie – people breathlessly watching the skies as an unknown and unstoppable force moves through the night devastating the people in its path.
I’m not the hysterical type – I tend to think that I’ll just go to bed here in a bit and wake up tomorrow like nothing ever happened. But for thousands of people tonight, the words I spoke to my students just an couple of hours ago seem freakishly prescient:
“Every day is life or death. We tend to think that everything is fine because we live comfortable lives with homes and cars and food. But for countless people all over the world, they don’t know when their next meal will come. Or if they get a next meal, whether or not that meal will kill them. There are places on earth where the next child born has a 99% chance of having HIV or AIDS and most likely won’t live past 16 years old. Life and death. We live with that reality every day. And God knows this. He knows and it’s why He isn’t content for us to come to Him; it’s why He left his glory behind and came to earth to take our sin on himself – and not just the sin of the people who would believe, but even the ones who would spit and cuss and deny God with their last breath. God died for them anyway because He loves them, and wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Life or death. We really do live on that edge. May God grant grace for those who find that edge too thin this evening, and may His people show compassion to those left behind.