Letter to the editor: The rash of Oklahoma disasters may contain a common thread

Three and a half years ago, The Lord spoke to me in a surprising way. A sharp, rolling earthquake had just hit Oklahoma, rattling our homes and our nerves as it passed with an audible roar.

I grabbed my kitchen counter. On instinct I looked at the ceiling and asked, “Lord, what is this?”

My heart was literally in my mouth. Surprisingly God spoke quietly to my mind: “I am walking through in judgment, and I will not pass this way again.”

Stunned, I impulsively asked,

“Why?”

He answered with one word:

“Crimes.”

The conversation ended.

What crimes? He didn’t have a thing more to say but immediately after that I began to see the answers in the daily news and outside my window.

So many unfolding revelations came without a let up that it was like a curtain had parted. Everywhere I looked I saw this or that crime – not petty theft, mind you, but big stuff – an FBI bust of city law enforcement. Statistics in the local paper citing Oklahoma as No. 1 in the nation in child abuse; No. 1 in meth activity; No. 1 in females incarcerated; No. 3 in women murdered; No. 4 in hunger;  and No. 5 in porn and trafficking including use of children.

I saw, smelled and heard police chases, meth labs, violent crimes and child abuse. A battered boy walked up to me in the Walmart parking lot begging for bus change to get to a shelter. One of my dear friends approached me with glazed eyes one Sunday morning after church. I reached out and embraced her asking how she was and she said, “Well, a lot had happened” – she had the flu and her son-in-law had just been murdered.

You get the drift. Sometimes God tells us pointblank things we would otherwise miss. Then he demonstrates what he is talking about by plain facts before our eyes. We would not see them clearly unless our attention had been arrested first.

What astonishes me is the stunning indifference of Oklahoma citizens to just how bad things are. Has this slide been gradual enough that, like the live frog cooked in a slowly heated pot, we refuse to jump?

All I know is that I’m responsible to tell people in various walks of life that it’s no longer business as usual. A wrecking ball is coming. It already tapped us twice in EF5 tornadoes that took nearly fifty people.

Are you among those who do not believe God speaks to humans? You probably don’t believe he executes judgment through disasters. But just as He is able to speak to me, He is not limited by our flawed sense of justice in how he brings judgment. He can do it any way he wants. Sometimes all He has to do is lower a hedge of protection.

If we cannot honor Him, His precepts, His truth, His expectations (do justice, love mercy, walk humbly before God), the time comes when justice must be honored. God is not Santa. He is not a lifeless idol. He has definite ideas about right and wrong, about civil responsibility no matter what we individually believe.

Throughout time entire cities, nations and civilizations have been judged and destroyed for neglect of the principles of justice. We’re no different. If God is upset enough to talk to someone that means we haven’t even begun to see bad stuff happen. This is not the time or place to think we have a future in the absence of belief in God and His justice.

In fact, it doesn’t matter what we believe.

When Jonah was sent to Nineveh the city’s days were numbered. It was that bad. But when he went preaching through the streets everybody believed him, even the king. The Ninevites humbled themselves, king and commoner, and God spared them.

I sit here feeling the ground swelling and quaking in a pattern called an earthquake “swarm.” Are you among the many wondering what’s causing these strange daily occurrences?

As far as I’m concerned, they are God’s footsteps. When I feel them they make that conversation three years ago harder and harder to ignore.