What to Do in an Earthquake

by Melanie on May 23, 2017

in Catholicism, Cursillo, Life in the 50s, Memoir, Nonfiction, Spirituality, Your Daily Tripod

Note: On Tuesdays and some Sundays, you can find me at Your Daily Tripod, owned by my friend TonyD. A longer version of the post below appears there.

I’ve been in three noticeable earthquakes. The first occurred in September 9, 1985, while I was on a Chicago el platform; the second, exactly 16 years later while I was in a Los Angeles hotel room (I figured it’d be the biggest memory of that business trip, but obviously, not); the third, in my day job office here in DC on August 23, 2011. I can testify that if you’re not familiar with what to do—stay inside and get under a desk or table—all you want to do is run. Run outside, run downstairs, run anywhere that seems more likely to provide stability. Escape from the shaking and the rolling. Stay putting seems counterintuitive.

The description in Acts 16 of what Paul and Silas did when the earthquake hit their jail seems counterintuitive too. Here was what seemed to be a huge God-given evangelization opportunity in escaping: “Look at what He did! He used an earthquake to set us free!”

But they stayed put long enough to take advantage of a smaller, more intimate opportunity: the conversion of the jailer. They talked him out of suicide. They bandaged his wounds. They went to his house… and baptized all the members of his family. The next day, both Paul and Silas were formally released.

Life as a Christian is much like going through a perpetual earthquake. Often, all we want to do is run—from those who persecute us, who ridicule us, who seek to destroy us. Staying put seems counterintuitive. But often, what we are called to do is remain where we are and heal and evangelize in our own families, neighborhoods, parishes, jobs, and other communities. Running is easy. Waiting long enough to discern the Lord’s desire is hard. Staying put may cost us our pride, our money, even our lives. But it is what we are called to do with faith, confident that He has power over all the shaking and rolling.

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