Saturday, June 25, 2011

Symbols of Hope

As life in the Tokyo area returns to a new kind of "normal," the waves of challenges and sorrows continue in northern Miyagi and Iwate prefectures. It's easy to be so overwhelmed by the destruction and sadness of the area as to miss the symbols of hope...

A solitary pine tree remains standing on a destroyed beachfront. It withstood the tsunami that destroyed everything around it. The tree has been at the center of an intense rescue effort to preserve its life. Saltwater poisoning in the soil threatens to do it in, and so team of specialists dig around the tree, replace soil, and monitor its health. DNA is extracted to replant the area someday with bits of new hope from this symbol of living hope.

Not far away another tree stands. A cross rises up above the site of a destroyed church building. Although once a symbol of death, the cross is a great symbol of life. No effort needs to be made to preserve the cross. Rather the cross offers to preserve the lives of all around from sin that has poisoned the "soil" of this world, and threatens to do us all in. The vision and prayer of Christians from this church is to replant the area with the love of Christ, the DNA of the cross. A sign nearby proclaims: "We believe in the revival of this land! Special hope is found here."

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1:3

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Brace for Impact?

As small aftershocks keep coming two and a half months after the major 3/11 quake, Japan's hi-tech Earthquake Early Warning System is getting increasing scrutiny.

The hi-tech system was rolled out to much fanfare just a few years back. It's set up to ring, vibrate and flash the 125 million plus cell phones throughout Japan when an earthquake is imminent. Sounds great. Makes me feel more secure. Technology is infallible, right? The problem is that technology, and this system, still depends on a fallible human link.

The biggest failing of the system was with the 3/11 quake. No early warning from cell phones. Several hours later, long after the tsunami had done its worst, the cell phones spewed out their first warning of the day. No doubt the person asleep at the switch with this one paid for the mistake with his job.

Since then the person in charge of pushing the button to alert all cell phones seems to be overcompensating for the 3/11 early warning boondoggle. The alert sounds. The cell phone vibrates off the table, lights flashing. We scatter away from windows. We open doors that might get jammed. We grab something solid and wait. And then...and then...nothing.

It's not that we're disappointed there wasn't another aftershock, it's just that these "cry wolf" false warnings that rattle us out of bed and our days activities are making it harding to trust the early warning technology at all.

Create technology so we needn't depend on God. Find comfort and security in buttons and gizmos and transistors. This is the natural direction of man, full of himself and his desire to master and rule his world. There's nothing wrong with using God-given wisdom to create technology to better our lives. But when dependence on technology moves us away from dependence on God, a problem emerges in our heart. Japan has long had this unhealthy dependence on technology to the exclusion of God. Its spiritual awakening starts with realizing the limits of man's wisdom and abilities. Pray that this disaster will open Japan's eyes to the need for a dependable source of security, the unshakeable ROCK, our God.