The neighborhood of Pastor Mike and Angela Sciarra in Orange, Calif., are among those communities impacted by this week’s fires in southern California. Yesterday, a mandatory evacuation was issued for their area. As of late this afternoon, they have not yet been allowed to return home.
Mike reports that one home was destroyed about 300 yards from theirs. “The bigger issue is a regional park called Santiago Oaks Park, which is a half mile from our home,” he added. “That got pretty torn up.”
In the face of the looming disaster, Mike wrote the following and posted it yesterday on his Facebook page. It is shared here with his permission. He is the senior pastor at Grace Church, Orange, Calif.
If you haven’t heard, there have been some fires in Southern California the last day or so. It has disrupted the normal flow of things. And it has shaken up many lives. And in the midst of taking care of business, I’m pausing to reflect.
Fires. Smoke. Mandatory evacuations. Time off of school. Life semi on hold. Destruction. Heartbreak. Loss. Drama. Disruption of the usual routine. Contemplating having too many possessions. And so much more.
I’m thinking about my cluttered life and my cluttered garage. As I drove away yesterday with a few things in my truck, three hours after receiving mandatory evacuation orders (OK, so I’m a rebel. Actually, many of my neighbors were still at home too and they’ve been through this before), the thought crossed my mind that I wouldn’t really miss all that stuff in my garage if the house went up in flames.
I have a lot of things going through my mind as I’m studying Romans 1:24–32 for Sunday’s sermon, I’m thinking about the main point of the text, which is the main point of my sermon (Hey preachers and sermon hearers, it’s always supposed to be this way). The main point is this: Idolatry leads to immorality. In other words, distorted worship leads to distorted ways.
We get so possession-oriented, don’t we? And our possessions begin to possess us. And somehow the line between idolatry and consumption gets blurry. Really blurry.
I’m tired right now and I probably breathed in too much smoke. But I feel like I’m probably thinking clearly about biblical things. And eternal things. Nothing like a huge brushfire to remind you that the wrath of God ignites the fires of hell. And God’s just anger is towards everyone except those living the obedience of faith. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s right there in Romans chapter 1 for all to see and hear. It just takes open ears and a willing heart.
Oh, and even though I have not been back home yet, I hear from some of my neighbors that my beloved hiking trails in Santiago Oaks Park have been affected dramatically. And you know what? That’s what hurts the most for me. I know it sounds kind of weird. But I’m really attached to those hiking trails in the park. For the past 6+ years that park has been my sanctuary, my study hall, my place to get away and clear my head, and just a beautiful place to enjoy God’s creation and revel in His goodness. But my goodness, I think my heart is a little too attached to those trails. Isn’t it easy to start adoring the creation of the One who is to be adored? I think by the ache in my heart over lost trails some of my idolatry is bleeding through. Praise God the blood of Christ pleads for me.
I’ll tell you one thing, smoky skies make for some really nice sunsets. And God’s beauty is accentuated by the ugliness sin creates all around. God is still on the throne no matter what. Nothing can separate the child of God from the love of God in Christ. Consume that my friends. Drink it in. Revel in God’s goodness as you walk through this life.
Happy trails my friends.