Place: Orlando International Airport
Date: Friday, March 11, 2011
Time: Approximately 4:15 a.m.

I’m playing on my computer, Facebook mostly, waiting for the US Air employees standing at the gate to announce that they’re ready for us to board. Around me sit travelers sipping coffee and eating fast-food breakfast items. Most of us wear the same perplexed look; how could it be that it’s so early in the morning and we’ve been at the airport for an hour or more already.

Across the aisle from me a young Japanese boy fiddles with his iPad, then calls his family members over. Within seconds, others are gathered. I hear the words, “earthquake” and “Japan.”

I switch from Facebook to Fox News. But, just as I do, my flight is called.

And Then in Charlotte

I land an hour or so later in Charlotte, NC on my way to Indianapolis. The news is everywhere. Even the air in this busy airport with it’s centrally-located grand piano and inviting rocking chairs is different somehow. I walk from Concourse B to Concourse C and reboard with no time to learn anything more than “the worst ever recorded.”

An hour later, we land in Indiana. The news is really buzzing now. The word “earthquake” is joined by “tsunami” and “explosions.” During my drive time from Indy to Taylor University in Upland, I listen as K-Love talk hosts spell out the gruesome details and call for prayer. I cannot wait to get to my hotel room, to open my computer, to read for myself what has happened a half a world away.

What I don’t know is how it affects me. Yet.

The Details

At approximately 2: 46 p.m. (Japan was 14 hours ahead of those of us who live in the Eastern portion of the United States that day) on Friday March 11, 2011, scientists recorded the worst earthquake to hit Japan in the 140 years of seismological record-keeping. Initially listed as 8.9, this megathrust earthquake was eventually given a magnitude of 9.0.

It was followed by more than fifty aftershocks, some over 7.1 in magnitude.

The earthquake and the aftershocks were followed by tremors…

…and a warning, heard from Japan, across the islands of the Pacific, to the entire western coasts of the United States, Canada, Central America, and South America and to a number of Eastern Hemisphere countries below Japan as well (approximately twenty countries in all).

Tidal waves measured at up to 33 feet and traveling nearly as fast as a jet airplane slammed against Japan’s east coast, sweeping along with it boats of every size, automobiles, buildings, and human beings. Fires—perhaps caused by gas heaters being torn apart inside homes and businesses—burned out of control. Ichihara City’s Cosmo Oil Refinery exploded, sending 100-ft high flames into the sky.

Then, as if nothing else could rock the Japanese landscape, blasts from the nuclear power plant in Onahama City, caused leaks of radiation and a loss of power. Upon last report, over 4 million buildings were without power.

Japan’s roads are badly damaged (and that’s an understatement). Debris is stacked up, reminders of a once-orderly life in upheaval. The death toll is at 10,000 and climbing.

Over the course of the next few days, I read emails from loved ones who were in Japan and trying to leave, from friends and colleagues in parts of the world affected by the tsunami. Every news channel in the world is dominated by the disaster.

And relief efforts.

Once Upon A Time… Another Earthquake

I couldn’t help but think about the story in 1 Kings 1:1. Elijah is exhausted from his fight with the people of Israel to stay faithful to the one true God. He is under attack from Queen Jezebel. He is hiding in a cave somewhere between Israel and Egypt, at Mount Horeb, the Mountain of God.