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Building on Higher Ground


A Mississippi home damaged by the storm. (Photo: R. Robison)

I can hear it already, echoing in pulpits across the country this weekend. Some will accredit Hurricane Katrina and the devastating aftermath to "the judgment of God". The storm, after all, descended upon the sinful casinos of the Gulf Coast and the pagan city of Mardi Gras!

Granted, this theory makes more sense than that of the far left, where Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. blamed the natural disaster on Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and President Bush for not binding America to the Kyoto Agreements. But, whenever bad things happen to people -- both good and bad people -- it seems to me that God always gets a bad rap in the deal.

Is this natural disaster the result of God's judgment? Well, yes and no...

I do not believe for one minute that God Almighty looked down upon the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and thought, "Those are some rotten people. I need to wipe them out!" Even if we assume that the Old Testament wrath of God applies to the post-Christ era of grace, the account of the Divine destruction of Sodom would illustrate an important point. When God told Abraham that He was going to allow the annihilation of the city, Abraham begged the Lord to spare all of the people, even the evil ones, for the sake of a few good ones.

"For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it," God declared. Ten is not some sacred number. The concept here is that God was not looking for a reason to destroy the city. In fact, He was looking for a reason to spare it from the impending natural disaster. However, nobody would listen to God's advice outside of Abraham's family and it "rained down burning sulfur" on Sodom and Gomorrah -- a phenomenon that historians believe was a volcanic eruption similar to that in Pompeii.

There are hundreds of thousands of Godly people in the Gulf region who were affected by Hurricane Katrina. A pastor in Picayune, Mississippi, serves on the board of our ministry. The eye of the storm passed directly over his devastated community.

So do I believe that this disaster is the result of God's displeasure with the notoriously hedonistic culture of New Orleans or the gambling industry along Mississippi's coast? No, not for one second. If that was the case, the rest of the world had better take cover!

On the other hand, the people in these areas have been warned for many years of the threat of a devastating hurricane, not by prophets or seers, but by engineers and meteorologists. Scripture tells us that storms will come -- both literally and symbolically. It also tells us to build our lives on "higher ground" and a "rock-solid foundation." Now everyone is questioning the wisdom of building a city below sea level and relying on manmade levies for protection. When the threat of the hurricane became reality, everyone was warned to get out of the city. Many people gambled against nature and lost. Others, perhaps, had no money or means to flee to safety.

This is, in a sense, the judgment of God. In the same way that a man jumps out of an airplane with a handmade parachute in defiance of gravity, then dies when his inadequate device fails, we are witnessing the same deadly results of defying the laws of nature. 

This is not to imply for a moment that God sent the hurricane to punish people, but it clearly points out that when we choose to build in areas susceptible to the laws of nature, we run the risk of paying a price. The same is true for towns constructed in the shadows of active volcanoes, cities founded atop unstable fault lines, and homes built on muddy hilltops or sandy seashores. It's always prudent to build your house on a foundation of solid rock, not shifting sand.

The deeper truth illustrated through this physical phenomenon should focus our attention on the importance of the spiritual foundation upon which we build our individual lives and collective culture. The decline of moral absolutes, whereupon we place our wellbeing on the shifting sands of relativism, poses a greater threat to the survival of our society than any rainstorm.

We can reject God's principles and truths, foolishly building our lives below the sea level of moral sanity, but we cannot escape the inherent risk of such recklessness. Failing to heed this truth only invites disaster in our lives. By the time we realize that life's storms pose a real threat, it may be too late. We may find ourselves swept away or, if we're lucky, stranded in desperation as prodigals begging for help.

In the words of New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin in the days before the storm, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a test. This is the real deal." America must wake up to the fact that moral absolutes are real and defying them invites disaster. The clear call to our nation, and indeed the whole world, is this: Build our lives, relationships and future on higher moral ground.

Author: James Robison

Word Count: 850

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, an international humanitarian aid ministry; host of the television program, Life Today; and author of The Absolutes.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, randy.robison at

Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.



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