In my dream state I could see it moving from one mountain ridge to another and back again. It crested a small hill a mile or so away, and then disappeared into the shadow of a valley only to reappear once again slipping and skipping across a small lake shimmering silver in the moonlight. The water rippled as it passed over; but like dust behind a pickup on a dry dirt road, it quickly settled and came to rest once again, at peace. For a time the darkness vanished, and in my dream I prayed it would not return. My prayers were in vain, however, for return it did; and this time it was much closer than before. Over to my left I saw or rather sensed the apparition. The mounting growl of furious thunder in the distance heralded its coming.
As is so often true in dreams, I tried to run, for by now escape was all I longed for; but my legs refused to answer. I remember hearing my panting breath as I desperately tried to crawl away from the approaching danger, but I was in quicksand and trapped.
The terrifying sound drew closer. I could feel it behind me. It roared in my ears. The taste of fear was on my tongue when something flashed in my mind: a memory, a thought, a word, reality.
“You can hear it coming!” James[i] said.
“What was that?” I said.
“You can hear it coming!” He repeated.
“What?” I said, still confused.
“The quake, the quake, you can hear it before it hits!! Roving, rolling, angry thunder, that’s the sound to listen for.”
I awoke to the sound of ten thousand terrified voices crying out “Jesus” in perfect unison.
The quake had thrown me from my cot to the floor. Shattered floor tiles were all around me, and bits of plaster and mortar were raining down from the ceiling above, as the thunder rolled away to the west and the echo of the desperate cry faded.
As the morning dawned on Port-au-Prince, it found a man with a changed perspective on life and on himself. The feeling of insignificance and helpless fear of the night before had a profound effect on me. Before that moment I had felt in control. I was after all an intelligent, spiritually mature, physically capable man; and I truly believed that I could take care of myself, not only physically, but spiritually.
As I crouched, terrified, beneath that flimsy cot and prayed that the ceiling above me would hold, I realized that I was absolutely helpless before the awesome power of nature and completely at the mercy of the awesome power of my God.
It has taken awhile, but I have reconciled myself to those facts, and while the power of nature still demands my respect, the power of God Almighty is what I cling to for hope and assurance. For you see, I understand that good construction techniques and happenstance kept the ceiling from falling that night. Another strong aftershock or a stiff breeze could have easily ended my earthly existence, for I neither demand nor expect more protection than the many who lost their lives in the big quake a few days before.
Nature, you see, promises nothing. Her whims are unpredictable and her moods uncharted, but God Almighty, Jesus Christ, is a God of stability and strength. He never varies, and He never fails.
I will never forget the wonderful sound of my Savior’s name echoing through the night all those years ago in Haiti. I will also never forget my surprise when I realized that I too had joined in the cry. Like so many others that night, when terror overtook me, I cried out to the only one I knew who could help.
I now realize in a real way, that He, Christ, will never leave me. I realize that no matter the outcome, Christ would have never left me that night, and He will never leave me now. His promises hold true.
Count on that. No matter what you may be going through, He is always there! He is faithful and true. He will never leave you.
[i] Mr. James Gulley - the UMCOR Coordinator for Haiti (James survived being trapped beneath the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince, Haiti for 55 hours following the Haitian Earthquake of January, 2010.)
Photo by Anthony S. Rowell - All Rights Reserved