Hundreds of small tremors take place along fault lines across the world every day. However, they are too small to detect. Recent research shows that those small tremors are very important. Signals emanating from fault zones are thought to be silent earthquakes. They are slow moving quakes that displace the ground without shaking it. They do not generate seismic waves, so they are harder to detect. It’s thought that these silent quakes do two important things: they relieve seismic plate tension so that major quakes are less likely and they may help predict when a major seismic event is about to take place.
When it comes to the silent earthquakes, the benefit is obvious. The daily trials and trauma which we go through have similar benefits. They are relieving mental and emotional tension as we learn how to note those silent earthquakes and use them to our advantage. They keep us sharp and alert to their movement, but we also understand that there is a purpose for everything that occurs in our lives.
The Enemy in Sight
The Old Testament book of Deuteronomy takes place on the banks of the Jordan River. Many years previous, spies sent into the land gave a mixed report of what they had surveyed. When the report came back, the resolve of the people melted (Numbers 14:1) even though they had been reassured that the land could be taken.
In an age of information we must be careful not to equate data with deliberation. Be careful about the type of information to which you expose yourself. Even doctrinally, if we are not careful we can lose heart, if we listen to too many voices. The lack of resolve seen in Numbers 14 does not start out strong. It builds through gossip, murmuring and conspiracy. Those silent earthquakes must be noted and dealt with quickly.
Moses warned the people by saying “keep thy soul diligently,” (Deuteronomy 4:9). The soul equates to the mind and if we are able keep our senses in this way, the silent earthquakes will not throw us off course. These instructions were given with the enemy in sight, but Moses knew that if the people dealt with the small tremors of the heart and mind now, they would do fine when the seismic activity started to pick up.
Good and bad circumstances operate off of patterns and series. As we move along in life, opportunities for both good and bad move with us. We should be aware of what works and what doesn’t and to take note when emotional and mental tensions are building. Like silent earthquakes such tension occurs many times each day. It is thought that those little tremors are the keys to noting when real danger may be approaching.
The challenges of daily living are constant, and while we do not ignore them, we must not obsess on them either. Wilhelm Steinitz, a young Austrian had won the Viennese chess championship for twenty years, but in 1872, he started to change. Observers say he started to approach the structure and the dynamics of the game like a geologist would analyze a stratum of earth. It made him a better player, but his painstaking approach over every detail of the game eventually steered him into a serious state of psychosis. While confined to a Moscow asylum, he insisted that he had played chess with God over an invisible telephone wire (God lost).
There has to be a mix of seeing the small tremors as warning signs, but not assigning more importance to them than is necessary. We all struggle, we all get discouraged and downhearted. Where we go from those initial stages or warning signs is up to us. We have to know when we should call for help and when we are simply dealing with life in a challenging world. If a small tremor in life moves us toward God, then it has to be considered a good thing.
Dr. M. Hildon Guy is the President of the University of Christian Studies and Seminary in Eagle River, Alaska. He is also a board member with Love INC of Eagle River. (www.universityofcss.org)