That sinking feeling

The town in which we live was named for the many springs that water the lush, rolling green hills. Often you’ll see a trickle of water springing from the abundant underground aquifers that are so close to the surface in this area. One such trickle happens to be in the middle of the road in front of our house, and much of the front yard stays wet most of the time.

It’s a good place to grow water-loving plants. The pussy willow planted three years ago is almost 6 feet tall. Even a small patch of watercress grew and thrived one summer!

The downside to this geological phenomenon is that sometimes these underground streams eat away the limestone bedrock, and hollows it out. When the water is gone, air replaces it, and the ground begins to sink. Many small local ponds have been created by this occurrence. Just a few miles north, however, such a sinkhole opened up in a less benign place than a cow pasture.

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky was the site of an enormous sinkhole that swallowed up several classic Corvettes two years ago.

The idea that the earth can open up and swallow eight cars is terrifying.

A few days ago, an even more terrifying ordeal occurred. A little boy wandered away from his grandmother in some woods where these sinkholes are common, some twenty feet deep. The description itself would give the reader a sinking feeling.

Even as we prayed fervently for two-year-old Noah, our hearts sank more and more as each bitter cold day turned into another even more bitter night.

There is no more terrifying word in the spiritual vocabulary as the word “lost.”

In Numbers 16, a not-so-unusual rebellion culminated with a rather unusual phenomenon as a sign from the Lord. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram along with 250 men rose up against Moses to say that they had just as much authority as Moses did. In effect, they wanted a more “democratic” way of worshipping than what God had outlined already.

They didn’t speak against God, really. They just questioned God’s choices. As you read along, you will find “that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up” (Numbers 16:31b, 32a NKJV). One might think that this would have given the congregation some clarity on what God thought.

Surprisingly, the people blamed Moses for the miracle. “You have killed the people of the Lord!” (Numbers 16:41). Here is a classic example of blaming the messenger when you don’t like the message! It was only through Moses’ quick thinking and the actions of Aaron that only 14,700 more people were destroyed by God for their refusal to accept what God was telling them.

God truly grieves for all who are lost, much as we grieve for little Noah and his family.

“Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezekiel 33:11).

Korah’s ways were not what some would call “wicked,” but he simply wanted to worship the way he saw best, not the way God saw best. Yet he and his companions were swallowed by the earth.

It would be wise to have that “sinking feeling” if we decide that God’s way isn’t our way. Then we can turn back, repent, and avoid being lost.

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