Excerpt #3: The Life-Quake

Excerpt #3: The Life-Quake

Please enjoy this excerpt from Bishop Pitts’ newest book, Fault Lines. See below for purchase options!

Experiencing a Life-Quake

After an earthquake, we don’t stop living. We get up, dig in, and rebuild. We reinforce what was weak and emerge stronger than before. We recover and restore.

Mexico City experienced an earthquake on September 19, 2017 that measured 7.1 on the Richter scale. More than 200 people were killed and thousands were injured.[1] Tens of thousands of structures, including buildings, schools, shopping centers, apartment complexes, and houses were damaged or destroyed.

In the weeks following this massive earthquake, I was able to have a conversation with Pastor Ofir Pena, the leader of our Cornerstone Global Network of churches throughout Mexico. By this time, it had become obvious that many people in the city were living in a state of fear. People were not sleeping well and were experiencing high levels of tension. In fact, they were probably living with elements of post-traumatic stress disorder. They were living with an unnerving sense of vulnerability and no longer felt safe. They seemed to feel that life was beyond their control. Fear and anxiety were palpable and pervasive.

Some of the structural casualties were luxury apartment complexes that had cost developers somewhere around 2 million pesos. These were fancy, high-end apartments. It was only after they were destroyed in the earthquake that it became clear that these units looked impressive on the outside but had not been built properly on the inside.

These things trigger several parallels with the life-quake:

  • After something is destroyed, do we rebuild? And how? What if the damage is too severe?
  • Who do we trust to help us rebuild? Were they part of the initial disaster? How do we know they are qualified now?
  • What if we feel like we are damaged beyond repair?

In a literal sense, if the complexes were destroyed and then rebuilt, we have to ask if we would even want to move back in, knowing their structural flaws had been exposed and they were prone to collapse! These flashy new buildings created quite a stir, but now we know they were not up to code. Everyone wanted to move in then, but what about now?

As we all know, people, too, can be superficial. We can probably all think of those who are looking for long-term relationships but are still measuring by short-term ideals, building on the fault line of searching for someone who is attractive, but not stable. Let me tell you, stability should be attractive to you!

When people are in relationships, they should be asking themselves and the other party (rather than just looking at curtains and furniture), “What is the quality of decisions over the history of your life? Who are the important voices you value? (Truly, you’re only marrying the voices they see as valuable and worth listening to.) What is their normal daily routine? Spending habits? Views on money? Moving into relationships like a person moves into an apartment, never having asked more than superficial questions, is risky. Flashy looks nice, and everyone wants to move into it, but it’s ultimately unstable. No matter how you decorate the apartment, it doesn’t change what it’s made of!

We also see that the closer we are to the epicenter of a quake, the more damage is done. While quakes are common across Mexico, this one was unique because its epicenter was so close to Mexico City. If this earthquake had been any stronger, at that proximity, the entire city could have been leveled. I have found that the closer people are to the epicenter of a life-quake, the more damage they sustain. The closer the relationships are, the closer in proximity to those who are shaking, the greater the damage.

Pastor Ofir noted that, on the Sunday following the earthquake, nearly every church he knew of was filled to overflowing. This stands out to me because it is similar to what we saw in the days following the September 11, 2001, bombing in the United States. On the Sunday after that attack, churches experienced a surge in attendance – the largest attendance in recent history![2] When we feel vulnerable, fearful, and we are experiencing a quake, we want to turn toward God and allow our faith to help us recover.

 

For more on life-quakes, and building a life that can withstand and emerge stronger, check out Bishop Pitts’ new book, Fault Lines, available here.

Footnotes:

[1] Nicole Chavez, et al. “Central Mexico Earthquake Kills more than 200, Topples Buildings.” CNN.com. http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/19/americas/mexico-earthquake/index.html (accessed September 27. 2017).

[2] Gerald L. Zelizer. “Quick Dose of 9-11 Religion Soothes, Doesn’t Change.” USA Today.  http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/comment/2002/01/08/ncguest2.htm (accessed September 27, 2017).

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