Good morning from Managua, Nicaragua!
A little over two weeks ago, Nicaragua experienced a relatively large earthquake. In the hours and days that followed, there were numerous earthquakes and tremors at all hours of the day and night. During the initial earthquake, a 6.2 on the Richter scale, I was on my way back to the apartment where Jen was waiting for me. As I drove down the road, my jeep began to shake in such a way that I thought one of my wheels was detaching from the vehicle. After pulling over and realizing my wheels were okay, I stood with a confusing look on my face until I heard a voice say, “fue un temblor” – It was an earthquake. In my two years of being in Nicaragua, I have experienced a number of earthquakes and tremors, but none strong enough to move my vehicle while I was driving. As we continued to experience aftershocks, more earthquakes and tremors, news came out that the initial earthquake was on the same fault line as the large earthquakes that had caused significant damage in Managua in the past.
In reality I was not very concerned initially. I had a conference call later that evening and jokingly said that we shouldn’t let an earthquake ruin a perfectly good conference call. Two days later, Jen and I went to Selva Negra, a park and coffee farm in the mountains of Nicaragua, far away from the shaking of Managua. I was completely calm until Sunday morning when, I believe, a little too much coffee and the constant concern about another big earthquake began to catch up with my nerves. At that moment, I began to feel a little anxious and the feeling continued as we returned to Managua. On Sunday evening, the government recommended that everyone in the areas impacted by the earthquakes sleep outside. The request seemed a little over the top to Jen and me until the shaking began again. Two large tremors and a couple of sprints out of our second floor apartment later, Jen and I decided to heed the warning of the government, and some of our Nicaraguan friends, and slept in our jeep. For the rest of the evening and into the morning, the ground continued to move and as did the jeep. This did not help my anxious feelings as the news had said a catastrophic earthquake could hit at any time.
Over the next couple of days, I continued to feel a sense of anxiousness, which was very frustrating and pretty abnormal for me. As the ground began to settle, I began to wonder if my feelings would ever settle down. It was on Wednesday afternoon that I had an epiphany of sorts. While writing notes in my journal and reading, I came to realize that in order to calm down I needed to remember where my foundation truly lies. When the earth begins to shake it is a very strange sensation. Normally, the ground seems like one of the few things in this life that we can count on to not move. When an earthquake hits, that thought process is proven false. This can be extremely disconcerting as there is nothing we can do about it. I tend to prefer being in control of situations in my life, but in the case of the ground moving, I am helpless. Coming to terms with this truth, reminded me that there is one foundation that does not move, my God. In one of the Psalms of David as recorded in the Bible, David says, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2, NIV) On that Wednesday afternoon, I understood, more than maybe any other time in my life, the truth and importance of these words of David. Despite the fact that the ground is moving, I can put my trust in the “Rock” that does not move, my Heavenly Father, who loves me and desires the best for my life.
If we are honest, I think we would all admit that at times we feel like there is no real foundation on which to stand in this life. The constant changes, troubles, setbacks, and defeats make us feel like we have to constantly be ready for the next “earthquake” in life. The reality is that life can be very hard and unsettling at times. This is true with or without God in your life. The question to ask, however, is, “Where am I going to put my feet when my world starts shaking?”
In my experience, there is only one foundation that holds up through any storm. The good news is we were created to be founded in this foundation. As created beings, we were never meant to find our ultimate courage, strength and peace in anything or anyone – ourselves included – other than the God who created us and invites us to be in a relationship with him through Jesus Christ. In fact, God gives us his Spirit to constantly remind us that we can stand strong in him. As I began to remember this and understand this on a deeper level one week ago, I felt a new sense of peace and freedom. Yes, the earth may move and there will be troubles in this life, but I have a foundation that will not fail.
What is your life founded on and how is it working for you? Could it be time to make a change? Could it be time to stop trying to find fulfillment and peace in things that were never meant to provide them? Shaking in this life is guaranteed. Where will your feet be planted when it begins?
– James Belt