You can just hear Michael Stipe and R.E.M. singing it now. . .
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.
It seems that the global disasters are increasing. Just look at this partial list of global events.
- Queensland, Australia - severe flooding. Three quarters of the state was declared a disaster zone. Over 30 people were killed and 200,000 were affected.
- Brazil - severe flooding. Nearly 500 people killed in the Rio de Janeiro region. Fear that many more were dead and many others missing.
- Queensland, Australia - Powerful cyclone hits area.
- New Zealand - A 6.3 magnitude earthquake ripped through Christchurch causing multiple fatalities.
- Japan - Massive earthquake and tsunami hit the island nation, followed by ongoing nuclear threat from power plant.
- Georgia - Wildfires grow in sothern Georgia as firefighters work to contain burn.
- Japan - Another earthquake hits the area causing great fear and caution and triggers tsunami warning.
- North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama - Hundreds dead as tornadoes tear through Southern states.
- Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana - flooding of the Mississippi River continues.
- Texas - Wildfires cover hundreds of acres of Texas.
- Joplin, Missouri - Hundreds dead and town faces great destruction as tornadoes wreak havoc.
- Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas - Hundreds dead and tons of damage as storms and tornadoes hit.
There are more, but these are depressing enough. For those of us in Florida, we look at this list and then we think . . ."and hurricane season hasn't even started, yet."
"What is going on?"
I hear that asked by a number of people. The same people who joked about the false prophet Harold Camping's prediction of Judgment Day (now moved to October 21) are still wondering if we're not really closing in on the end.
So, are we getting close? I believe so. Romans 8:22 speaks of the earth "groaning" in anticipation of the end. Perhaps this is what we're experiencing? Regardless, as Christians, we should continually be prepared. Scripture is clear on this. I wrote about this at the end of the post here.
However, as I hope you can tell, Christ has not yet come back. Therefore, there are still things God has for us to do in order to bring Him glory.
Can God get glory through disasters such as we are experiencing now?
These tragic disaster stories seem to come daily now. Some are wondering how much more can we take. Yet, I find that God's church, especially, but not exclusively, Southern Baptists are readily available to help in times like these.
There was a report on one of the major news stations following the Alabama tornadoes that the American Red Cross and Salvation Army had arrived and were distributing goods and offering aid to victims. However, when the camera panned the volunteers, they all were wearing bright yellow T-shirts and caps. While most of the viewing audience may not have caught this, those of us who understand realized quickly that these were not Red Cross or Salvation Army volunteers (Don't get me wrong, I'm sure they were there as well as other groups like Samaritan's Purse, and working and they do well. It's just that the images shown weren't of them.) The yellow shirts and caps are the distinctive emblems of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams.
In these last days, God will draw even more people to Himself. His church will serve and I believe that for Southern Baptists, the Disaster Relief efforts may result in the greatest harvest of souls in generations.
This is not to discount the Great Awakenings of the past or the evangelistic revivals of previous generations. God definitely used those and many souls were saved as a result.
It's just my opinion that God is raising up an army of missional (yes - disaster relief is missional) believers who are ready to love and serve their neighbors in the name of Jesus Christ.
We pray for the families of victims.
We do, however, believe that God has and will use His church in these days to bring the nations, the people groups, throughout the world to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
R.E.M. may be singing a politically left-leaning statement in their song, but in truth, this may be the "end of the world as we know it" but you know what? "I feel fine," not because of who I am, but because of whose I am.
So what do we do?
We realize that we are here for a reason. . .and that reason is not about us.
We double check that which is truly valuable in our lives (not the homes or cars or "stuff" we accumulate - looking at the images following the tornadoes reminds me how temporary those things are) and live from our hearts for God's glory.
It may not be that you can serve on a disaster relief team. You may never have a yellow T-shirt or cap, but you probably know someone in your family, school, work or community that is facing a personal "disaster." Be ready to "be the church" to those God puts in your path.
BTW - to read current updates from SBC Disaster Relief with info on how you can help or donate, go to http://www.namb.net/dr/.