Carol and I enjoyed the drive from Arkansas through Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. After visiting friends and family, we enjoyed the trip through Colorado and Wyoming. We’ve done it many times and we never tire of looking at God’s handiwork in nature. But things began to change in Wyoming.
We received some rain east of Cheyenne as we drove toward Rawlins, but it wasn’t rain that was discoloring the sky. After the rain let up, the sky began turning hazy. Going north to spend the night in Lander, WY, we were wondering what was going on. The haze was too light to be dust in the air, and the wind wasn’t blowing very hard, anyway. But going north from Lander, we began to figure it out.
Smoke in the atmosphere! Forest fires are out of control!
Prior to leaving on this trip, Carol and I saw reports of the fires on the television news reports, so we were aware of what was happening. But we didn’t know the extent of the fires, and we didn’t know how far the smoke had spread.
By the time we reached Coulter Bay north of Jackson, Wyoming, we could smell the burning wood although the forest fires were hundreds of miles away; and the Grand Teton Mountains were difficult to see.
The folks from the medical fields were telling people with health issues to stay indoors, and to wear proper masks or respirators if they had to go outside. However, many folks had only simple dust-masks over their nose and mouth. I’m not sure how effective they were others in blocking the smoke from the lungs, but they did not help me.
We travelled up into Yellowstone National Park and were happy to see that the atmosphere over the Fishing Bridge Campground where we were staying was relatively clear. But smoke had blown in around Old Faithful Geyser Basin.
A week later, we were heading up to Eureka, Montana, and the farther north we went, the worse the smoke was. When we reached my cousin’s home, we could not see the mountains which were only three miles away.
I had trouble breathing, sneezing spells hit me quite often, and my allergy pills were not helping me.
I thought of our fire-fighters and the life-threatening conditions they face every day. I pray for them often. I thought about people trapped in burning buildings and how hellish that must be. Many of them die in those infernos. And the thought of people caught in these diabolical forest fires is almost beyond my comprehension.
Thinking of people who smoke both tobacco and electronic cigarettes I wondered about their sanity. Why do people purposely inhale smoke and gas that can eventually kill them? It doesn’t make sense.
We had a good rain on Sunday night, and the wind had shifted. Both those events cleared the air over Eureka, and we rejoiced Monday as we breathed clearly and deeply. The air almost tasted wonderful!
Then I thought of the contrast between the eastern states and the western states. The east was being devastated with rain, and the west devastated with fire. Whether enshrouded in smoke and fire or caught in a flood, it can be difficult to breath and death can be quick.
And that turned me to thinking about people who are caught in the warped world of sin and who cannot seem to break free of it. They might want to live a better life, but they can’t see past the “clouds of smoke” or the “swirling waters” of their ungodly lifestyle. But unless they change their way of thinking and living, they will eventually die in the tangled mess they have created. Read Romans 12:2.
People may be involved in alcohol, tobacco, gambling, drugs, sex, identity confusion, theft, or any other of the hundreds of lifestyles that causes the person, with every breath they take, to sink deeper into the enshrouding smoke or swirling waters of that devastating activity. That can cause them to lose their joy of living both here on earth and for eternity.
I would like to shout to them, “If you could understand the direction you’re going, if you would turn away from the warped lifestyle, if you would stop diving head-long into your black hole of oblivion and learn to trust in Jesus, you could hold your head higher, breathe easier, and live freely! If you turn to Him, Jesus can give you wisdom to live – really live!
If you do, your life both on earth and for eternity will be a lot better.
Read John 3:16, Luke 19:10, 1 John 1:9.
And Proverbs 3:5-8 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and mind; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he (God) will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear – respect and honor – the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.
You’ll be able to “breathe easier” both now, and forever.