I don’t believe that we’re in the middle of the End Times: an unpopular view. I know many people say that the calamities of this time are different from anything the world has ever seen, but I disagree. The immediacy of technology makes disasters and world events seem bigger and closer, especially on a 50-inch TV. The calamities surrounding us, however, aren’t new.
Dictatorships, mass murder, gender-related controversies, ethnic cleansing: just read the Bible if you don’t believe me. We have seen it before. The preface to the End Times will look different from today’s calamities, and hubris drives us to try and predict when the end is coming. We should all be ready all the time, but I wonder, will I freak out?
Some of you readers will rightly think to yourselves that, being Canadian, I’m more safeguarded. Yes, true. I have never lived under the affliction and fear of seasonal disasters or military unrest, but nature has tapped me on the shoulder and made a boogie-man face.
In the UK, where I lived for nine years, we suffered some serious windstorms, which were lethal at times. On the way to a work function, walking down a busy street, the wind was so strong that I had to hold onto pillars and bus stop poles or risk being blown into traffic. I saw human chains, people holding each other for security; I was an eight-stone wisp (those were the days).
In British Columbia, the biggest seasonal threat to safety is forest fires. Every year, we hold our breaths — how bad is it going to be? Drought and heat give birth to dry lightning. Tinder-dry forests can be ignited by friction from speeding dirt bikes or a spark from a passing train.
That’s without campers who think their weenie roast is the exception to a province-wide campfire ban. And smokers still drop their butt-ends along the side of the highway as they travel.
But the proximity of a forest fire was never so immediate as just recently. The cause was none of the situations listed above, but a driver’s misfortune. He veered off the road into a ditch along a notoriously windy stretch of road, a spot known for frequent accidents, and the event started a fire one kilometer from where I was visiting a friend.
Put that in perspective: the average person takes around 10 minutes to walk that distance, but a fire can jump it much faster. My friend had been evacuated from her home in a different part of the province years ago.
The process, and the emotions, were familiarly frightening. As I sat listening to her talk on the phone with her husband, her voice changed. When she hung up, she turned to me and muttered “Okay, I’m starting to freak out.”
We Prayed, God Gave us Peace
I say us, but she was the one whose home was in danger. She was the one whose husband had to drive home from his workplace more than an hour away. She was the one whose daughter insisted on staying at work so as not to anger her employers, who thought there was nothing to worry about. I was going to drive home, 20 minutes or 31 kilometers away (which would be just over five hours on foot).
We prayed, “Father, give us discernment.” She said it helped. We were certainly both calmer as a result. What else can a person do but go to Jesus? As Peter asked, “Where else would we go?” (John 6:68). We got water bottles together.
A bag was already packed, but there were a few missing pieces she and I collected. Then we waited for instructions, talking about other things. I was going to stay until her husband came when I felt the urgency to leave in case I got trapped there, or my family became worried. I had just received my second Covid shot, too, and knew it was possible to become really sick.
In that case, I’d be more of a hindrance than a help. An hour after I left, she was told to evacuate but they are still there, in their RV, ready to evacuate as I write this.
I Drove Away in Terror
I’d like to say that the peace of Christ lasted and lasted, but the plume was visible from her home. Right there, dark and ominous. As I drove out of her house, I got lost. I always get lost in her little town for some reason. This got me flustered, so I was already slightly shaky (and I needed lunch, so I was hangry too).
Eventually, by following the water, I found my way to a traffic jam going away from town in two directions, which added to the unsettled feeling creeping over me. I couldn’t turn left across the highway, so I turned right and followed the line-up moving slowly out of town before seeing a gap where I could do a 180º.
Up until that point, I was aware that this particular stretch of highway doesn’t feature many turn-around points before the next major city, many miles northeast. At least I’d filled my car.
This is where I discovered that the line-up heading my way was only held up by a slow-moving vehicle — past that, the road was clear. At first, I put my foot down and was tempted to drive at frightening speeds along that dangerously windy road.
A strange sensation came over me as though some beast of Satan was pursuing me. The smoke was so close, so thick, and this was really happening. I’ve never felt that way before.
We were on evacuation alert for the same reason when my younger daughter was just a few months old — she’s 18 now — but since then, fires have stayed at a safe distance from us. But the fire in Lytton, which took the town by complete surprise and leveled it, was in the back of my mind.
The people had no time to collect belongings. A few even perished. Fire jumps, burrows underground, and splits. Fire doesn’t have a conscience or a plan. Fire is morally neutral, and it causes whatever damage the Lord permits.
The God who protected us was the same God who allowed Lytton to burn — still the same, glorious, good, gracious, great God. I had no right to expect him to protect me.
An Odd Revelation
How strangely calming. The idea that the Lord isn’t picking favorites led me to the reality that he has a perfect plan, and his people are all cherished, whatever happens. If I was about to land in the middle of a roadblock without food (aah!), he had a purpose for that.
He would be worshiped and glorified in any crisis, including the hardship faced by evacuees Darrel Johnson wrote, “God is receiving the worship that God is worthy to receive.” A forest fire and my panic will not change that reality. Panic subsided.
And I’m writing this from my home computer in my actual home, which is not under evacuation alert. It’s smoky, so I cannot forget the toil and turmoil experienced by countless individuals whose homes are under threat and those who are fighting the fires.
I still don’t think the apocalypse has started. By that same token, I realize that I need to be ready — not with a bag full of water and clothes (that too) but with the Word of God etched on my heart and mind. Christ really does guard us when we rest in him (Philippians 4:7).
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Candice Lucey is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. Find out more about her here.