Saturday, March 2, 2013

FL man swallowed by sinkhole: "A loud crash, then nothing"

I wasn't going to report on the man in Florida who was sleeping in his bed at 11:00 at night and was swallowed by a sinkhole that opened up under his bedroom. The hole swallowed all the bedroom furniture and the man. The only thing the brother found after he heard his sibling scream was a bit of the mattress sticking out.

Because after all, I've reported and reported on sinkholes over the years and how many times does one need to report on the phenomenon to have people understand that the very ground under our feet is not as solid as we think, but Jesus is the only solid rock?

But this event in Tampa yesterday is a bit unusual. For one thing, the house did not collapse, not even yet, a day later and the hole getting bigger. Second, the man disappeared in an instant. It is the first time I've really heard of a death that has resulted (Likely death, though hope is severely diminishing as the family waits for word). And the worst part of this terrible tragedy is the feeling of utter vulnerability. In bed we are undressed, unconscious and totally unable to defend or counteract what may happen. It is the one time in the day when we lay down and trust that we will wake up the next day.

Except for some people, they do not wake up. We are all unfortunately used to stories of home invasions with death through violence, or death through illness during the night. But this, this, seems beyond the pale.

Except it is not.

No man is guaranteed a tomorrow. This concept is encapsulated in the verses from James most explicitly:

Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain, (And yet ye cannot tell what shall be tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and afterward vanisheth away.) For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, and if we live, we will do this or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil." (James 4:13-16 Geneva).

Every moment of our lives depend on God. This goes for the saved and the unsaved.

The ground under the house is a chasm, the man said. The officials are quoted as saying:

"Bill Bracken, the owner of an engineering company called to assess the sinkhole, told the AP Friday that he "cannot tell you why it [the house] has not collapsed yet." He added that the earth below was a "very large, very fluid mass." "This is not your typical sinkhole," Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrill told the AP Friday. "This is a chasm. For that reason, we're being very deliberate."

I think of the chasm that is under every person. Jonathan Edwards spoke of it in his classic sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. I am not relating this to the man in the sinkhole, but to the fact of death coming to every person:
"The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him. They belong to him; he has their souls in his possession, and under his dominion. The scripture represents them as his goods, Luke 11:12. The devils watch them; they are ever by them at their right hand; they stand waiting for them, like greedy hungry lions that see their prey, and expect to have it, but are for the present kept back. If God should withdraw his hand, by which they are restrained, they would in one moment fly upon their poor souls. The old serpent is gaping for them; hell opens its mouth wide to receive them; and if God should permit it, they would be hastily swallowed up and lost."

"The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are out of Christ. -- That world of misery, that lake of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell's wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor any thing to take hold of; there is nothing between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up."
Whether the end comes because of a normal means or whether it comes eerily like the way described by Edwards, your end will come.

"As a father hath compassion on his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that fear him. For he knoweth whereof we be made: he remembereth that we are but dust. The days of man are as grass: as a flower of the field, so flourisheth he. For the wind goeth over it, and it is gone, and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the loving kindness of the Lord endureth forever and ever upon them that fear him, and his righteousness upon children’s children," (Psalm 103:13-17, 1599 Geneva Bible (GNV)

Man is frail. We do not go on forever, notwhithstanding our lengthening years via medicine and artificial means.

"For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man is as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower falleth away. But the word of the Lord endureth forever: and this is the word which is preached among you."(1 Peter 1:24-25 1599 Geneva Bible)

The flesh shows the weakness of our nature.

If there is any message to be taken from the weird story of the man in the sinkhole it is that- we are going to die. Sometimes today, sometimes tomorrow. Sometimes in usual ways, sometimes in unusual ways. I wrote about that notion here- So many creative ways to die: the story of George Millet and the ink eraser.

So the ultimate point is, are we ready for eternity? Every person has one. We will live forever either in heaven with Jesus, or in hell without Him. When these weird things happen, or when a 'celebrity' dies (like Bonnie Franklin yesterday) the first thing I think of is "were they saved?" I hope the unfortunate man in the Florida house was saved. I hope that his grieving brother thinks on eternity now that it came to his house.

We know the Lord is everlasting,
"Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen." (Psalm 41:13)

But we messed up the earth with sin-

"The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant." (Isaiah 24:5)

Therefore those who are not cleansed from sin will go into everlasting punishment. Those who are cleansed of sin through his grace, repentance and submission will go to everlasting peace-

[On Judgment Day] "Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, and say, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go into everlasting pain, and the righteous into life eternal."

PLEASE PLEASE consider these things.

"For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold now the accepted time, behold now the day of salvation."(2 Corinthians 6:2)

THAT is the lesson of the sinkhole.

9 comments:

  1. As I read your account of this I had Luke 16:19-31 come to mind instantly.

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  2. Scary. Causes one to want to hold tightly to God's hand.

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    Replies
    1. Excellent posts! Thank you!
      Noticed you are using Geneva bible!

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    2. Hi Anonymous,

      Thank you so much for your kind words and your visit. I like the ESV and Geneva. When Biblegateway added Geneva to its list of preferred translations,. I started using it. I really like the study notes that accompany the GNV. It is the world's first study bible!

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    3. I visit your site daily and truly appreciate your teaching, insight and boldness!
      I would appreciate your opinion on

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  3. I saw this story on a news site, it made me think of your blog and prompted me to check out your take on it. Not quite related, except that it falls into the category of 'authorities can't explain', the news site I was reading also had an article on the same page about a beam of light that was seen to start a fire in an Australian suburb. Strange.

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  4. Here's another sinkhole in Florida - http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/04/17181596-sinkhole-victims-family-going-through-hell-as-second-hole-found-nearby?lite

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  5. "But if the Lord creates a new thing, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down into the pit, then you will understand that these men have rejected the Lord." (Number 16:30) Jesus is doing unusual things in these Last Days to wake people up to the fact that He is returning very, very soon and our Age is just about over.

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