Fires and Faithfulness: Pstr Mike
While Oregon is not the place of my birth, it became the place of both my wife and my choosing, and the place where God has called us to live out our destiny. We have lived here many years now and we settled in a small town whose population was smaller than both of our high school graduating classes. The natural beauty, the dense forests, snow covered mountains, and the open spaces of the high desert are as close to a physical Holy of Holies that I will ever experience in this lifetime.
While some people here live close to the land and respect it, not all public lands have been well cared for. Partisan politics informs many of our land use decisions rather than sound ecological practices. And the land suffers. And so do the inhabitants. Many of the national forests on the West Coast have become a tinderbox because of a refusal to accept a climate that is getting warmer. Coupled with a lack of better management practices that take into account changing environments, the door has been opened for disasters on unprecedented scale. We saw the devastation in Paradise, and now recently, the Southern Oregon communities of Talent and Phoenix, along with both the McKenzie River and Santiam Canyon communities. There has been much talk of recovery, but little talk of prevention. Other communities have been spared, or are far away from fire danger, but now the entire West Coast and neighboring states are breathing the worse air currently on the planet.
Visibility here is fluctuating, but it hovers around a quarter mile or less. We actually hit an Air Quality Index number of over 600 here for a day. I woke up Sunday morning with a sore throat and headache due to the smoke. I wanted to cancel church as I expected a very small attendance. Much to my surprise, most of them showed up. They wanted the fellowship with each other and the Lord. They wanted to worship and hear the Word taught to them. I was struck by their faithfulness in showing up when it would have been so easy to stay home, and in doing so, they gave me another picture of what faithfulness looks like.