Our town of Santa Rosa has many small, and a few large, churches. When I say large, I’m not talking Mid-west or Texas-in-the-thousands-large, but hundreds. Our area has been called “faith unfriendly” by movie distributors, and few Christian movies make it to our town. Churches stand alone. With a few exceptions, they don’t get together.
The firestorm has shaken the foundation of our community. The fires burned without discrimination, destroying the homes of Christians and non-Christians, people in exclusive neighborhoods, those living in small tract homes, modest trailer parks or patched-together shelters in a homeless encampment. Those who lost homes are grieving, and so are others who feel almost guilty they still have a home standing.
And then Sunday night came, and hope rose as Christians and non-Christians gathered at Grace Pavilion at the Fairgrounds. The members of the praise band were a mix from various churches in our community. Several firemen were invited to the platform, so we could show our gratitude. The place erupted, everyone on their feet, clapping, shouting, whistling appreciation. Many first responders lost their homes while serving others. Others came to assure us that over seven hundred churches in the Bay Area are standing with us, and will continue to do so until our town is rebuilt.
Francis Chan came from San Francisco to speak to us. What was the message of the evening? “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty who was, who is, and who is to come.” We don’t understand why tragedy and catastrophe occurs; if we keep our eyes on God, we will make it through to the other side. And maybe a firestorm is what it takes to get people outside the box and into the neighborhoods to love and serve one another.
We’ve seen this kind of revival before. After 9/11. After the Oklahoma City bombing. After Katrina. People awaken and look to God when horrific events happen. We ask a thousand questions, some that can never be answered. We search for something to hold onto. The soul, whether redeemed or not yet redeemed, longs for and cries out to God. And He hears us.
The firestorm and the devastating loss is bringing people together. Grace Pavilion was packed with people looking for comfort and wisdom, and we felt God’s presence. We felt His Spirit moving among us.
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come.” Amen!
Knowing Jesus, knowing the future is in His loving hands calms the heart and gives us the strength to move forward and begin the long-haul work of rebuilding.