As I write this article, about 200,000 people have been evacuated from below the Oroville Dam in California. The citizens of California, the evacuees, and all the families whose lives are being impacted are in our prayers.
Oroville Dam is the tallest dam in the United States, and it sits about 150 miles northeast of San Francisco. Built in 1968, it holds back Lake Oroville. The lake is crucial to California’s “State Water Project,” a system of retaining water for use in the dry spring and summer seasons.
Because of heavy rains and snowmelts, the water levels are extremely high…almost at capacity. And with more storms on the way, state officials and engineers have been frantically releasing as much water as possible. This effort has been hampered by damage to the main spillway and erosion on an emergency spillway.
If the dam fails, at any spot, there could be a massive, uncontrolled release of water…a 30-foot high wall of water entering the valley below. It could cause significant damage. It would certainly be devastating financially for citizens and the state. And it would cause a significant depletion to reserve water needed in the year ahead.
As I read about the challenges facing these workers and the decisions being made to shore up the weak spots, I remembered something my friend David Pharr once said. A paraphrase would be: “you don’t have to destroy the whole fence in order to render it useless; a break in a small section will let all the cows out.”
Of course, the same principle is true of our adherence to God’s Word. It is easy to be tempted by phrases such as: “it is such a small thing,” or “that isn’t really an essential command,” or “we’ll fix that some other time.” If small cracks aren’t identified and shored up, they can lead to catastrophic failure of faith.
The song, My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less says the words better than I have (see below). It is a song that reminds us that there is no foundation, no rock, no trust as great as the one we have in Jesus. If we build on that firm ground, we will remain secure.
We pray for the workers and all those who are trying to secure safety for the citizens of California. As we do so, let us also remember to remain vigilant in our faith and secure eternal safety for others and ourselves in Christ, our solid rock.
My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
in every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil. [Refrain]
His oath, his covenant, his blood
support me in the whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay. [Refrain]
When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found,
dressed in his righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne. [Refrain]