Archive for December, 2009


“Solitude vivifies; isolation kills” Joseph Roux (French Artist 18th century)

What do Alaska and Community have in common?

Who do you think it was that was the first person to say, “Let’s move to Alaska”?  I mean, think about it.  You’re practically in Russia, surrounded by sovereign countries (none of which are the United States), and in an environment that regularly post temperatures as low as  -51ºC.  America has always been known for the rugged individualism of its pioneers, but this is ridiculous.  In fact, being separated from the contiguous United States, it has to manufacture its own power.  That’s right!  Because there are no power lines that are allowed to cross Canada, and because the state does not want to depend on other countries (i.e. Canada or Russia) they must manufacture their own power.  They are a country rich in natural resources but not in hydraulic opportunities.  That being the case they tend to generate most of their power with coal.  Another funny thing about Alaska is that, at certain times of the year, they tend to have these really long nights.  Because of its proximity to the North Pole (it is only about 800 miles south of there) they have the longest and the shortest days of anyplace on Earth.  In fact, the longest days are approximately 20 hours and the shortest ones are about 4.5 hours long.  The long days are in the summer months, but the long nights are in the winter months.  So where one might expect for the natural sunlight to pick up part of the heating bill, the sun is nowhere to be found in the coldest part of the year.  You see the problem of course.  If you are generating your own power and you have and abnormally cold and dark time of year, then there will come a time when the system is overtaxed and is so overloaded that it shuts down.  This has long been just the case in Alaska.  Total blackouts were not uncommon happenings; indeed as many as two or three times a winter.  The whole state would just go dark… and cold; remember it is like -51ºC outside!   But it was on this day in 2003 that a partial solution was arrived at and deployed, when the world’s largest battery came online in Anchorage, AK.  This thing is big… really big, like Donald Trump huge.  The battery made up of 13,760 nickel-cadmium cells, weighs about one thousand, three hundred tons.  It covers 2,000 square meters (roughly the area of a football field), and provides about 40 Megawatts… for seven minutes.  Luckily in that amount of time they are able to start up diesel generators that will carry the load after that.  But don’t worry, the behemoth battery is able to be recharged, and used again in the next emergency.  So, what’s the price tag to be able to be one of these ruggedly independent people… thirty-five million dollars, or if you prefer, about two hundred fifty bucks for every family in that great state.

That brings us back to my original question, “What makes a person decide, ‘Hey, lets move to Alaska.  I think that’s a good idea’”?  We laugh for obvious reason, but lets face it.  Most of us, if not all, are bound for Alaska in our hearts.  I mean, what’s our first reaction when we are caught up in some besetting sin?  What did Adam do?  “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  (NIV) We do the same thing. We isolate, pull out, break off, split… we hide.  We separate ourselves from the Kingdom (the covenant family) by physical means, spiritual means, and even by emotional means.  We surround ourselves with those who at best are disinterested in our well being, at worst want to see us fail… if only to join them in their folly- Misery loves company.  But we have a different standard that we are called to. Consider the words of Jesus’ own brother:

James Chapter 5:16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.17Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. 19My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

But when we isolate we not only rob ourselves of any opportunity to redeem our imperfections, we also rob others of that same chance.  Everybody needs time away, but that’s not we’re talking about here.  I’m talking about mediation… not meditation. WE are the means of delivering grace into the world.  As God’s hands and feet, here and now, in the earth, we are the sole dispensers of His forgiveness.  Only to us is it given to look another person in the eye and say to him “I see what you have done, and In Jesus name I forgive you.”  Isn’t that stupendous, marvelous astounding?! He chose to use poor slobs like me and you, here and now, foe whatever reason… to have the eternal… touch the temporal.

Matthew 16:19

19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (NIV)