August 3, 2018
The last week has been scary for most and devastating for some in Redding and its surrounding areas. The historic Carr Fire broke out west of Redding and by Thursday night it was out of control. That evening, many in our Redding community were evacuated from their homes, often with very few personal items and unsure of what they would return to. As of posting this on August 3rd, it has burned through 131,896 acres and is 39% contained. It has destroyed over 1,000 homes.
The fire has moved away from Redding and is no longer encroaching into the city, thanks to the incredible work of all the firefighters and public servants working endless hours to keep us safe. While my family is all safe, it is not lost on me that many in our community have lost everything. I believe this event has altered our world and we will feel the effects of it for quite some time.
My heart is with all those who are mourning. My prayer is that you would know the closeness of your Father in this time. Remember Psalm 34:18 which says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
A Dark Cloud of Gloom
When Ezekiel entered the valley of dry bones, the outlook was bleak; death hung over the battlefield like a thick dark cloud of gloom. (This picture is all too familiar to us in Redding, as a cloud of smoke still lingers over our city.)
Then suddenly, God rocked Ezekiel’s world when He asked the prophet a ridiculous question: “Can these bones live?” The great prophet staggered to comprehend the possible outcome of God’s incredible inquiry. Finally, he gathered himself and answered, “You know, Lord.” The rest is history: a mighty army emerged from the valley of dry bones as Ezekiel prophesied life into that graveyard (see Ezekiel 37:1-10).
Our city today seems to be in disarray in the wake of the Carr Fire. Loss, chaos, and fear have been pelting us like a plague, and yet once again God’s prophetic people stand in the valley of the shadow of death, and once again God is asking us the same question: “Can these bones live?”
The history of our city and county hang in the balance as we ponder the answer to this profound question; will we inspire mass despair, or will we equip a mighty army of light bearers who transform this deep darkness?
How To Hope In the Aftermath of Destruction
Just as Ezekiel was called to look at a hopeless situation of death and dismay and have a role in changing the course of history, so must we as believers look at our city and see beyond hopelessness. Here are at least 5 ways that we can make a difference and hold onto hope in the wake of the Carr tragedy:
1. See beyond what’s obvious.
When everybody else sees a valley of dry bones, it is incumbent upon us as the prophetic people of God to envision a mighty army. Not only do we need to see beyond, but we have to take action, procreating with God through prophetic declarations. As we see through Ezekiel’s story, prophecy is not just telling the future; oftentimes God calls us to cause the future!
2. Lead the way.
When our community feels defeated, depressed, powerless and outnumbered, it is the responsibility of God’s prophetic people to rise up and pick a fight against overwhelming odds because we can see into the invisible realm and we know that there are more for us than those who are against us!
3. Be a bold bearer of hope.
While some in our community are now encountering a dark night of the soul and they feel weak, hungry, and fragile, it is God’s prophetic people who can see past the plots of the enemy and envision the battle plans of the angel armies. This gives us the authority to release declarations of hope in the midst of the fires of destruction, which in turn ensnares principalities, and disarms and imprisons them in their own demonic devices. Romans 15:4-5 says, “through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,”
4. Remember God’s promises!
When the mourners see a crucified body and the soldiers are counting their coins, and all the while Pilot has washed his hands of the whole mess; it is the people of God, thousands years earlier, who had already predicted an empty tomb! And so now, when situations look hopeless, it is incumbent upon us to be carriers of promise, to stand firm on the prophetic words spoken over our community and our land, and declare in faith all the good that God will bring forth from the ashes!
5. Hold onto the truth that God is with you!
Through the cross, Jesus taught us endurance through pain. How did He endure the excruciating pain He faced that day? He could persist through the pain, face it head on, even though it was obviously not enjoyable at the moment, to say the least. Jesus could do this because He focused on what he was gaining in the process. His vision gave His pain a purpose (Hebrews 12:2).
It unravels me to think that through the pain He was thinking of me (and you). So whatever you’re facing today, I want you to know that your Father in heaven is looking at you with love in His eyes and compassion in His heart. He can empathize and connect with your pain because He felt it all on the cross. I feel an invitation today to all those who are hurting to ask Him for a picture of the joy set before you…the thing that will drive you to persevere in this season. He is waiting to speak to you, to encourage you, and to give you hope for your future today!
Speak Declarations of Hope Over Shasta County
The world waits in hopeful anticipation as God’s prophetic people stand in the valley of decision. My prayer is that God would once again equip us to see a mighty army rise from the dry bones of despair, and shine the light of hope into this tragic situation!
So today I’m asking for your prayers and prophetic declarations. Many of you have asked how you can support us and I’ve been blown away by the love and support from thousands around the globe. Please join me by sharing your prayers and declarations in the comments below! I’m asking you to love on my city and believe with me that God will somehow use this for our good. He’s just that good Himself.
Click here to donate financially to support families that have lost their possessions. 100% of donations to this fund will go to victims who lost homes during the Carr Fire. Bethel Church covers all administration costs and credit card fees, so every dollar goes to the cause. Make sure to enter your donation in the “Carr Fire Victims” box.
Topics: Current EventsInspiration