Hurricanes, Lava, Snow, Oh My!

Manta Ray Diving

We have a lot we need to pray about together over our island. Before we do though I would like to invite you to read about something God reminded of me of yesterday that could change the way we pray.

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his crafstmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.”
Psalm 19:1-4

Last night I had a very important conversation with God. No words were exchanged and yet much was communicated from His heart to mine and vice-versa. Some friends of ours from Seattle, Ryan & Maya Ringe, invited my oldest son Elijah and I to join them for a swim with the Manta rays off the Kona coast last night. Game for an adventure I found myself at the front of a catamaran along with 20 or so others soaking in the “bigness” of the Big Island. In front of me was the vast blue of the Pacific Ocean and behind me the grand view of Hawaii with Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea rising up to kiss the sky. It was dusk and the sky was beginning to clear after a thunder and lightening storm had made its presence known. As the boat made its way out to the diving point I was overwhelmed with the expanse of the beauty all around me. In front of me the setting sun had fun with the clouds as if an artist was flinging his pallet of colors across a blank canvas. Golds, yellows, and oranges turned to pinks, reds, and purples before my eyes. Behind me the setting sun decided to highlight one of the days most unexpected surprises- SNOW! Yes, there was now snow at the peak of Mauna Kea. That storm that had passed through had not only brought a lot of noise and light, but also a drop in temperature allowing for this years first snow on the highest elevations of the island. I knew that snow was one of the unique characteristics that set this island apart from the others, but I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes since I had lived here as a keiki. In this moment, to see it like this, from the ocean with the sun shining upon its white luminescence it took my breath away. It was like the moment almost 17 and half years ago when Cyndi came around the corner in her wedding dress and my eyes beheld my bride for the first time in all her glory! David observed something similar as he continued to soak in all of God’s creation around him: “God has made a home in the heavens for the sun. It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race. (Psalm 19:4-5)”
When, thirty minutes later, we arrived at our dive destination, I was happy whether or not I actually saw a Manta ray up close. Perhaps due to the storm, the plankton was not plentiful enough to lure very many Manta rays to venture out underneath our underwater lights. I saw enough of them though to understand immediately why these majestic creatures are dubbed “the angels of the sea.” After forty-five minutes of soaking in the wonders of the ocean depths the boat captain turned on the light atop the mast to signal the groups return to the boat. It was as if the Captain of my soul was using all of creation to do the same thing with me. He was calling me back to Himself. For a few minutes I waded in the water by myself as I waited for the rest of the group to climb back on board the boat. I looked off to the horizon as the storm was now sitting over the island of Maui. The lightening flashes in the distance almost seemed to keep time with the up and down rhythm of the ocean I was floating in. In the almost surreal stillness of that moment I was reminded of how truly big my God is. Every lightening flash served as an exclamation point on this one often forgotten and yet unchangeable reality- God is in control! In the wake of my Grandma Joy’s death a few days ago and the mourning of my own soul- God is in control! In the frustration of needing to work for Starbucks when I just want to give my time to pastoring a growing church- God is in control! In the newness of our life here in Hawaii and all the transition- God is in control! The God who was controlling the storm over Maui, the snow on Mauna Kea and the Manta ray’s below me was not overwhelmed by my circumstances. In that moment I felt so small in the vastness of the ocean around me and the stars above me. In my “smallness” I remembered the greatness, grandness, awesomeness, and “largeness” of my God and knew I had nothing to fear. The God who was controlling all of this around me simultaneously was also holding me.
It wasn’t until I returned to shore that I found out that a new storm could become hurricane Ana by Wednesday and hit the Big Island by Sunday. This is especially concerning to the people of Pahoa who are still recovering from hurricane Iselle and watching a lava flow that is seemingly fixed on their eventual destruction. Please join me in praying big prayers to a big God over the Big Island and its people! This is not too big for Him! Let’s pray that hurricane Ana misses the islands completely and dissipates before it can cause any destruction. Pray that the lava flow misses every home and business in Pahoa. Pray for strength and provision for the churches, families, and civic leaders in these areas hardest hit. Pray to the God who holds all things in His hands in the name of Jesus Christ!
Hurricane Ana