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Slippery Slopes and the New Normal

Posted By on October 21, 2015

In September 2013 Colorado experienced a “hundred year flood.” We’ve had several of them in the 40 years I have lived in Colorado. Usually a storm front will stall or move slowly along a particular river basin, dumping enough rain in one area that the rocky canyon drains more into the river than it can handle. Consequently, the excess water gushes down the canyon in a flash flood. Major catastrophes have arisen in a matter of hours causing great cost in lost property, and sometimes in lost lives. But in 2013, the storm front that stalled wasn’t over one river basin; it was over all of the river basins that drain out of the Front Range from Wyoming on the north to Colorado Springs on the south.

It rained for two or three days over that entire region causing every river that flows east from the continental divide to reach catastrophic flood stage. Whole towns were cut off from emergency services because all the roads in and out were under water or washed away. Power, water, and sewer were knocked out for days or weeks. Homes along all of the canyon were flooded, undermined, or swept away entirely.

Businesses were lost. The very ground on which they had stood was all washed downstream. They could never be rebuilt. Other businesses lost an entire tourist season because people couldn’t get to their favorite mountain havens. And many of those havens had become disaster areas.

Devastation in the mountain canyons was just the beginning of the story. All of the water in those major rivers had to go somewhere, and most of it could not sink into the already saturated ground. River basins drain into other river basins, so that eventually all the rivers run into the sea, as Solomon astutely observed. In our case, they drain into the South Platte basin which runs through several major population centers in Colorado. For days, even after it stopped raining, the flood water surged along the South Platte causing trouble as it went. Highways  and county roads became impassible, and bridges were washed out well into Nebraska.  Thousands of people were displaced as whole low-lying neighborhoods washed away.

One of our church members has a granddaughter who was rescued by a police unit just as her house trailer floated off its moorings. Members of our own extended family had to improvise their wedding day because not everyone could get to the same side of the flood waters which had closed a hundred miles of I-25.

Our family makes frequent trips up the Big Thompson Canyon to Rocky Mountain National Park. We havMountains2015_3e watched with curiosity and interest for two years as various things have been rebuilt (or not!). Some things are almost the same as they were. Some things look better, since people with good insurance were able to start from scratch or make major upgrades. Some places are totally unrecognizable. Some will never be rebuilt because of the expense (like our beloved Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park). Some cannot be rebuilt– like many of the picnic spots in Glen Haven Canyon– because the course of the river has changed too much.

What is my point in belaboring all of this? I am attempting to show how everyone who has lived and played in this area now has to adapt to a “new normal.” Why is this so? Because the “old normal” is gone.

Metaphorically speaking now, our society, our culture has experienced a stalled storm front of moral relativism and atheistic humanism for the past generation. We are well beyond the saturation point. The torrents of self-centeredness and depraved, debauched self-gratification have sent debris-filled waves of destruction down all the steep, rocky canyons of mass media.

Untold numbers of lives have been lost or ruined. Businesses and livelihoods have been destroyed. Homes have been taken out; some are barely standing on crumbled foundations, propped up on shaky and insubstantial pilings.

Mountains2015_4   After the historic Big Thompson flood in the 1970’s, signs were put in the canyons that read, “In case of flash flood, climb to safety.” Generally speaking, that is sound advice. Mountains2015_2But in the 2013 floods, some of the people who had built high up on the hillsides away from the river banks had their homes come crashing down anyway. They had built on “high ground,” but their lofty locations were really slippery slopes of loose dirt, prone to landslides. The Christian community has recently seen many who seemed to be safe on “high ground” brought down by the floods of self-gratification. They didn’t realize that the heights of human wisdom, self-reliance, and self-sufficiency are nothing but slippery scree.  Climbing to safety only works if you’re on the solid Rock.

SMountains2015_1o what are we to do after floods destroy what we have known and loved? We can’t move away until God calls us home. We have to stay and help clear as much rubble as we can, pick up some of the pieces, and provide help and comfort to those who have experienced loss. We may grieve for the “old normal” because the displaced boulders, crumbled foundations and up-rooted trees of the “new normal” aren’t very pretty. But this is where God has called to labor for the time being.

But we can take heart; some day the “new normal” won’t be another version of the old, groaning, sin-tainted earth. It will be “a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away…” (Rev. 21:1)




Hymn 82 by Isaac Watts

Shall the vile race of flesh and blood

Contend with their Creator God?

Shall mortal worms presume to be

More holy, wise, or just, than He?

Behold He puts His trust in none

Of all the spirits round His throne;

Their natures when compared with his

Are neither holy, just, nor wise.

But how much meaner things are they

Who spring from dust and dwell in clay!

Touched by the finger of Thy wrath

We faint and vanish like a moth.

From night to day, and day to night,

We die by thousands in Thy sight;

Buried in dust whole nations lie

Like a forgotten vanity.

Almighty Pow’r! To Thee we bow,

How frail are we, how glorious Thou!

No more the sons of earth shall dare

With an Eternal God compare.

by Teri Ong


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