The Author

Ashes in the Wind

The recent eruption of the volcano in Iceland has grabbed our attention. For the first time since World War II, commercial air traffic in England and the rest of Europe has come to a standstill. Lives have been disrupted all over the globe by the inability to get from one place to the next, as well as by the stoppage of the flow of goods and services. Even those of us who are not traveling will feel the effects of the fallout.

Already the inevitable question of “why” has been asked. As you might expect, some have suggested that the eruption is another sign of global warming, a reflection of human misdeed. I’m not enough of a scientist – no surprise there – to even hazard a guess as to the geology of all that. But I do know what vulcanologists – a great job title, by the way – say: “Eruptions are what volcanoes do.”

As the television preacher of a few years ago claimed about a hurricane headed to the East coast, some have said that the eruption is a sign of God’s displeasure with our sin. I may not be as good a theologian as some, even some TV preacher, but I always thought that the cross was the sign of God’s displeasure with our sin. I do know this: the eruption of the volcano is just one more reminder that we are not in charge.

Now, that doesn’t mean that some folks won’t try to prove the contrary. I have been in enough airports to know that a line of
very important, very busy people have made their way to ticket counters to demand to know when the planes will get back in the air. More than once, they will have heard these words, “Who knows?” What I hope is that someone has answered occasionally, “Only God knows.”

Fortunately, some will have taken this opportunity to sit back, relax, and reflect. In the busyness of this world, those moments are few and far between. We are so hurried, so distracted, so determined to be in control, that we run through all of life’s stop signs, thinking that they don’t apply to us, not realizing until far too late that they do. Of all the things that the eruption of the volcano might be, there is one thing that it surely is: a sign to remind us that we are not in charge. If we’ll slow down long enough to think about that, we’ll see that it is a truth that applies to us. And, if we’ll slow down that long, we might pause to give thanks to the One who is.