On Boxing Day 2004, thousands of people were enjoying themselves on the beaches of Thailand. It was a glorious day for holiday makers from all over the world, who were enjoying a Christmas break in a warm and inviting climate. Conditions were idyllic when, quite suddenly, the sea began to go out exceptionally quickly. People were fascinated and confused by what was happening. Boats, that a few minutes earlier were bobbing happily on the water, were now stranded on the sand.
A few informed people knew what was happening and began to flee the beaches and head off inland as fast as they could possibly go. But the majority were left playing on the empty beach. Far out to see the biggest wave that anyone had ever seen was gaining momentum, as the sea was simply responding to the consequences of a huge, underwater earthquake. Even when the huge wave could be seen approaching the beach, it was beyond their comprehension and people had no idea what to do. The majority were just swept up in an unstoppable torrent of water. On that day about 250,000 people lost their lives in the biggest tsunami the modern world had ever seen.
This is all fresh in my mind because I’ve just watched a film made up of the video clips from the cameras of those who were caught up in it all. The frightening suddenness of the tsunami was totally overwhelming. But as my wife and I watched the unforgettable images of disaster we realised that not only were the pictures a record of unparalleled disaster, but they were also a parable for an unthinking world.
None of us have any idea when Jesus will return, or what traumas the world will have to endure before that great and terrible day when God winds up the clock of the ages, but right now it feels as though the tide has gone out on the beaches of life and the world’s people are playing on them as if there’s no particular problem. They don’t see the terrible consequences that will one day come, as a result of the hidden earthquakes that are shaking the world’s financial, political, religious and moral systems. In recent months the world’s financial systems have been severely shaken. The tide is going out and it seems as though a world shaking tsunami is gathering momentum.
There is only one place where mankind can be safe when such a ‘tsunami hits the beaches’ and that’s to be hidden in Christ. He is our only absolute security, for, as our Scripture for today says, we don’t have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Christ has gone on ahead. he is preparing a place for us. He is our, and the world’s, only hope. How important it is that we know who we are trusting in, and that we pray with greater intensity and urgency for the people who are playing on the beaches, ignorant of what is happening.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, that in You I have absolute security and that even though we have no enduring safety, in You we have eternal security. Open my eyes, Lord, to the needs of those around me so that I may use every opportunity to warn those who are unconcerned about the need, to urgently find their place in the Kingdom of God – where believers will dwell in our eternal and enduring city. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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