There is a strange and palpable silence that hangs in the air of Central Texas this morning. We have spent the last 80 days or so in a triple digit degree drought that has turned terribly dangerous. In the last several days we have watched the skies fill with smoke during the day and glow with an eerie and flickering ember at night. We have heard reports of our neighbors being displaced from their homes and others losing everything. We have experienced random power outages, community chaos, new reports of fires, evacuations, and deep concern for this state we love so dearly.
Today a heavy smoke hangs in the air and not all of it is from the fires. There is a sense of great loss. We, as a community, have lost parts of our towns, neighborhoods, and homes. Loss is never an easy thing to deal with or process, but it is very real. Texas may not be ready to grieve today, but there will be a wave of grief behind this devastation. Our communities have rallied and been awakened to respond to the reality of neighbors losing everything. There is a deep compassion that emerges that drives us to be of assistance. Serving in times of crisis often times give us a release for our own unexplained feelings of loss.
The silence hangs in my own heart as I feel so moved with compassion for this community I live in and this state that I love. I’m driven to pray first. My compassion moves me to cry out to God to rescue us from this chaos. It moves me to beg Him to rain down comfort, mercy, and grace on our community. I am moved to ask for God’s protection over our brave firefighters, policemen, and other public servants. I am moved to ask Him to awaken His children, the Church, to be the body in extreme ways to share His love to people desperate for hope. It moves me to pray for those who have lost everything in these devastating fires. To pray they would experience a community that loves them and offers them hope as they rebuild their lives.
I’m then inspired by the thoughts of the brave men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to save the lives and homes of other people. It’s such a powerfully visceral reminder on this week of the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 how impactful Firefighters are to this country. I can remember the images and sounds of that fateful day in Manhattan, as we watched those men and women run into the buildings that would soon crumble down in front of our eyes. We have watched it this week again in Central Texas. Brave men and women from all over running toward this devastation to help, to serve, and to rescue. I’m inspired by their selflessness, their desire to protect, their willingness to run into situations others run away from.
Those prayers and inspiration give way for my spirit to desire to make a difference! Gateway Church’s Fire Relief effort is in full swing and I am engaging my energy to serve alongside my Gateway family. Please feel free to step up and serve the Austin area in any way you can. If you are outside the Austin area, you can donate to Austin Disaster Relief Network to aid the victims of these fires.
I am compelled to share some images with you of the reason for the silence in the smoke this morning! Please pray for Texas today and get involved in ways you are compelled to help.
Here is a PhotoBlog from the Austin American Statesman documenting the last several days in Central Texas.
Here is a widely spread photo of Austin with the wildfire smoke in the backdrop on Labor Day.