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An Explosive Message From Mayon Volcano
A message from Mt. Mayon
The whole world probably has now been alerted of the impending danger of Mt. Mayon in Albay, Philippines. Daragang Magayon (as the legend calls it) began increasing its volcanic activity a few weeks ago; And just yesterday (January 22, 2018), it started spewing out a monstrous gray tower of ash, and today (January 23) the same incident occurred three times; This prompted Phivolcs to raise Mayon to alert level 4 that means that it can have a major eruption within a matter of hours or days.
Even as I am writing this, residing 11km from Mayon, I can hear the beautiful beast thundering in indignation and power. Tourists might find this a once in a lifetime experience while residents like us are gripped by a familiar fear and awe.
Furthermore, the recent events not only wrought caution but also brought me into a ruminative state. I queried of its significance, wondering of its purpose. I know it has to mean something. I know it has a message, and most specially, I trusted that God is sovereign over it.
You see, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the Bible that is everything in this life and in this world teaches us about God. (Sir Isaac Newton once said that God wrote 2 books, His word and His world.) That’s why I was quite confident that Mt. Mayon was not created to merely explode and incite terror, it was there as a preacher.
A reminder of our humantiy
The local government has been doing its best during this time of calamity, and even the ordinary people of Albay are hand in hand in preparing for the worst. Looking at it at its surface we can see that this is the automatic response of people to either man-made or natural disasters; our built-in response to fight for survival---to protect the one life we have. It’s time like this that our humanity is magnified more than ever.
Psalm 39:4-6a; “O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
5 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!
6 Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Our minds tend to be in its best state or at least, its most sober one, when coming face to face with the reality of death. Sure, we fear over losing our properties, but nothing can scare us more than to see a volcano ready to erupt and cover you dead with its arsenal of ash and lava. Indeed, it is a prodding to all men to wake up from frivolity and do away with a reckless you-only-live-once kind of living. You also need not to have an active volcano as your neighbor for this message to be preached to you, because a small rock can either be a reminder or even the very cause of your death. Nevertheless, one way or another, by the sky, by a poisonous snake, by our frail bodies, or by a fellow man, death will come knocking.
Ecclesiastes 2:24-26; 24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment[a] in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him[b] who can eat or who can have enjoyment?26 For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God.
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20; 18 Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment[a] in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. 19 Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.20 For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.
So the question is how are we going to deal with our humanity? Well, the first thing we could do is to stop with our delusions of being immortal. John Piper mentioned in one of his sermons how frail we are that a microscopic bug can kill us. The reality is we cannot escape our humanity, we cannot cheat death. We are no match.
2 Corinthians 7:10; …”For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
Secondly, we need to understand that our mortality was not given to mock us nor is it a sadistic scheme of bringing humans to life only to see them hopelessly die. That idea belongs to the teaching of evolution; existing by chance by nothing, and then from nothing to everything. Then that nothing that exploded into everything turned out to be our lives then we live, have a sense of justice and of what is right and wrong, make memories, grow, and love; only to know that all of those things are futile because the nothing that vomited out everything cannot give a purpose nor any kind of certainty or any form of hope and comfort. In fact, who knows, tomorrow that nothing might by chance blow us up out of existence or evolve us into peanuts or grow us a tail and a beak. But we can’t complain, because we have no purpose, there’s no creator, everything is by chance but it is “science”, and it makes us look smart. Although we might not be smart because how can nothing and chance make such an incomprehensible magnificent piece of genius such as our brains and the rest of the intelligently designed rational world. That nothing must be something.
Romans 1:18-23; 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Consequently, our mortality is given to tell us that this world is not our home. Because something so profound such as a life, our life, cannot possibly end in this passing earthly world. Eternity was put into our hearts, whether we acknowledge it or not. There’s this longing that pulls on us every single day; a longing to live on. Most of us don’t know what to do with it or how to understand this longing. Some express it through an effort of delaying the decay of our bodies, many fool themselves that this world is the place where they are meant to live forever; while some altogether hasten to enter their graves, since they think they are going to die anyway, with a wishful thinking that they will wake up on the other side to live on. All of those ideas are wrong and a grievous tragedy and foppery.
Proverbs 19:23; The fear of the Lord leads to life,
and whoever has it rests satisfied;
he will not be visited by harm
Psalm 63:3; Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
Let me be clear that I do not intend to suck out of you the will to live in this earth nor do I advocate to lose an enthusiasm for living. What I am trying to convey is for us to live fully and with meaning while here on earth, and to do it as a preparation for the life to come. Yes there is a life to come, and there are two destinations; as to which one you end up in is up to you.
John 3:16-21; 16 “For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
A reminder of power
The second message of Mt. Mayon is surely the exaltation of the power of its Creator. When one sees such power and glory in a volcano, erupting or not, but most especially when it does erupt, one can’t help but be reminded that it is but a mere reflection of the power and glory of its Creator. This principle is not esoteric, it is axiomatic; and it is at work everywhere; like how we can conclude that a marvelous architecture is surely created by a highly skilled architect equal or even greater than the greatness displayed by his work.
So when I stare at the raging mount, I behold the inconceivable power of God. I also see it through the engulfing sky, by the ubiquitous wind and the air I breathe, through the waters indomitably flowing in its decreed path; I also feel it as I feel my heart beat. The evidence and display of His glory and power in us and in this created world are simply overwhelming. To deny it, therefore, is utterly ridiculous.
Psalm 19:1-4; The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above[a] proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice[b] goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In addition, to be reminded of God’s power is to be reminded of all that He is. When I say “remind” I do not imply as if one has completely forgotten; it is more of a refreshing and strengthening. It is through the scriptures that we learn about God, but it is through life and creation that we experience Him as scriptures have taught us. And to be reminded of who your God is, is the most comforting, reviving and life-giving thing in the world and eternity. In Him you find peace, even in the midst of a volcanic eruption.
Psalm 46:1-3; God is our refuge and strength,
a very present[b] help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
Isaiah 40:28-31; 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.