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Thoughts while in a gas station line

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Sitting in a long line waiting for a gas pump to be vacated can increase one's awareness of social breakdown becoming a real possibility. The intricacies of our modern world and how closely dependant we are on others who live far away become glaringly apparent. One questions how a catastrophic storm—with such a beautiful name, Katrina, meaning "pure"— a thousand miles away can so completely affect our every-day routines to the point of a growing desperation, frustration and, even, fear.

Observing drivers rudely cutting one another off, obscenely gesturing and angrily honking their car horns, is to be reminded that the veneer of civility is very thin in the face of a threat to one's comfort zone, or convenience.

Jesus Christ, in His Olivet Prophecy gave us an outline warning of end-time events, events that we increasingly see occurring daily before our very eyes. "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars…and there will be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:6–8).

Newspapers, radio and TV news unknowingly echo Christ's words and are saturated with reports about these events. While they may seem somewhat disturbing for the moment, we have to get to the game, the lawn needs to be mowed, and the vacation is next week.

But reality never takes a vacation and the long gas lines prove the point. Angry people, with upset routines, frustrated by something they don't fully understand, and fearful that they won't be able to get enough gas for their SUVs, jostle one another, gesture angrily and honk their horns.

While they are inconvenienced, the reason for their inconvenience—the site of the catastrophe—has turned into chaos, with uncounted human lives lost. Thousands of people are homeless, suddenly without property, possessions, without food, water and sanitation facilities. Those who have these necessary things rush into the zone of chaos to provide just the barest of them for those who do not.

One is sickened by the reports of ruthless gangs roaming the sewage-polluted areas, robbing, stealing, murdering, and even shooting at those who risk their lives to help provide relief. Jesus also said "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold" (v. 12).

This latest event, too, shall pass—the shock and awe of Katrina, just like the aftermath of 9/11 will fade into the background of our lives, and the United States, along with the rest of the world, will move on, back into our complacent routines: the game, mowing the lawn, going on vacation. We will relegate the digging out, the cleaning up, the rebuilding of 90,000 square miles of gulf coast devastation to the news analysts and the never-ending politics of blame-placing.

Our daily lives will simply go on and we will again become oblivious to a reality heading towards us that will make Katrina look like a picnic in the park. Jesus said of those as oblivious as in the days of Noah: "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away" (vv. 38–39).

Jesus Christ said He would come again (the rest of v. 39). We are to: "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour our Lord is coming" (v. 42). Send for our free booklet Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ's Return. It will help you to understand the need for Him to come again.

Gary F. Ehman