We’ve officially made it past the Carr Fire’s one-month anniversary. This is not a happy anniversary by any means, except that the Carr Fire is nearly fully contained, which is a relief, but it’s hardly cause for Champagne since we are still breathing toxic smoke from other fires that continue to rage around us. If you don’t believe it, just step outside, squint at the murky gray sky and dare to inhale deeply.
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Just as north-staters know better than to complain about the heat in August, we have quickly adapted and have learned it’s no good to complain about the smoke. It is what it is. It’s beyond our control.
However, some things are within our control, such as whether to stay or go. Last week I posted my observation on Facebook that I was hearing an average of two people a day announcing plans to leave the Redding area in the wake of the Carr Fire.
A firestorm of comments erupted after my observation. There were two basic camps of commenters.
The first group sympathized, related, and even gave their blessing. Who can blame them? I want to go, too! Wait, take me with you!
The second group was defensive. We’re not fair-weather residents, and we’re staying! Good riddance, quitters! They won’t find any place better anyway, because every place has its issues: floods, fires, earthquakes, snow storms, humidity, poverty, cost of living, transients, crime, etc., etc., etc.
Me? I’m not going anywhere. I have family and friends here. Besides, my home survived the Carr Fire, and I am guiltily grateful that my neighborhood does not look like a blackened moonscape, which is more than I can say for more than 200,000 north-state acres.
As an aside, for the record, I won’t say, Thank God my house didn’t burn, because to say that implies that God allowed more than 1,000 homes – including some of my friends’ – to perish by fire, but God allowed my home and others to be spared. That’s stinkin’ spiritual thinkin’, and no belief system I’d embrace.
But I digress.
Regarding whether to stay or go, I have to say, if I were one of those souls who lost their homes, or if I lived in a neighborhood where my home was one of the rare survivors, surrounded by ash and soot, I could see the appeal in leaving. I might especially feel that way if my home was destroyed and I had a generous insurance compensation check in my hand. I could see it, as Jim Dowling wrote, as a fresh chance to start over with a clean slate.
Rebuild? Gird your loins, dear ones, because I am hearing construction timelines of two years or more to build, which means people will be renting during that time, languishing in construction limbo. And considering that the city of Redding is looking to Santa Rosa for guidance, that makes me nervous, too, since I’m hearing that Santa Rosa folks are wading through their own nightmare of red tape more than a year after their fire
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to be a wet blanket for those of you pioneering folks who plan to rebuild. I applaud your grit, tenacity and vision. I have heard enthusiastic stories about people who are excited to rebuild, who look at this as an opportunity to get things exactly how they wish for this next house. I get it, because one of the greatest joys I experienced in another lifetime was when my then-husband and I built our dream home. I loved the entire planning and construction process, just as I have always loved remodeling. For me, that’s pure creative fun.
I can especially sympathize with families with school-age kids, deeply rooted in good schools and dear friends and important activities, and can understand why they’d commit to staying, even when they really wanted to go. But on the other hand, I can also understand why people with no kids or little kids, or retired people, might want to pack up and get the heck out of here. Do over!
I hate to be Doni Downer, but let’s face it, during these last few years of Redding’s unsavory “new normal” of increased crime, transients and a growing homelessness issue; where our streets, parks and public places look like something out of a Walking Dead episode hasn’t exactly made this place praiseworthy. All along, for all our complaining, we could agree upon a common consolation: Well, at least out north state is beautiful.
That refrain reminds me of someone excusing the bad behavior of some whacked-out, misbehaving aunt, the turd-in-the-punch-bowl relative at family gatherings.
Well, at least she’s beautiful.
Sadly, the Carr Fire so badly disfigured our once-beautiful Redding area that it will be generations until our region fully regains its natural good looks.
A moment of silence as we mourn the losses of our beloved, formerly stunning Whiskeytown Lake, Shasta Lake, our river trails and our many naturally beautiful areas. I still cannot even bear to look at these places in person.
Back to Bethel
Four days after the Carr Fire threatened to annihilate Redding, I started getting bombarded with upset emails and angry, private Facebook messages from people wanting to know if I’d seen the blog written by Ben Lim, a senior pastor of His Way Life, a Christian church based in Los Angeles, who claimed he had a word from the Lord to share: Prophetic Word for Bethel Church & Redding, CA: “Beauty and Bounty from the Ashes”.
While Lim is not part of the Bethel Church staff, he has attended Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, and is affiliated with Bethel leadership. One month ago he interviewed Bethel Church leader Beni Johnson on his BenLim TV-Revival.
The first time I saw it I thought it was written by someone as a Christian Onion-esque spoof, someone trying to make Bethel look bad. It wasn’t a spoof. It was the real deal. The good news was that Lim predicted silver-lining outcomes of the Carr Fire:
A NEW ‘CITY’ IS BEING BORN!
I see new houses being built. New infrastructures being implemented. There will be new schools, new roadways, new hospitals, new houses, and new government buildings. This is actually going to BOOST the economy of Shasta county! This fire is going to boost the economy of Redding!
Sure. What’s not to love about that? Bring it. But then, Lim took things to a whole other level, a place that basically edged out the average
heathens citizens, and made it sound as if all the post- Carr-Fire improvements were only for Bethel and its followers.
… As I was in prayer the other day, I felt the Lord speaking to me, saying that the Lord is giving to Bethel Church and to all of those connected to them, “new cars!”
Cars in the prophetic stand for ministries, churches, and organizations. I hear the Lord saying that “I am giving to Bethel Church new cars and new ministries… I am giving to Bethel Church a new face and a new car, to take you to the next stage and phase of your ministry. I am giving to Redding, California a new car!”
It’s not a coincidence that the name of this fire is called the, “Carr Fire.” I think that God can speak prophetically through little similarities such as this.
And then came this, complete with futuristic artwork:
Just as a fire shines and polishes glass and other materials, I see Bethel Church and this whole region, shining bright and anew! There is going to be a whole new influx of people and wealth coming to this city! Bethel Church and Redding, CA will be polished bright in Jesus‘ name!
It was hard not to be offended by how Lim depicted our area, you know, in that sort of, “Hey, we’ll be the ones to call ourselves Poverty Flats,” kind of way.
What once was an rusty town of old buildings and weak infrastructures from the Boom-town days of the Gold Rush, will turn into a hustling and bustling, modern-day city, which will be thriving with Renaissance-like artwork and masterpieces all around. Redding, CA will be a glimmering masterpiece of the Lord!
But my personal favorite part (and citizens of Mt. Shasta, hold onto your hats, because I hope you’re ready for this):
The Lord showed me in a vision, that the principality of Mt. Shasta had fallen! There was judgement for this New Age principality and the Lord is giving to Bethel Church and to the believers of Shasta County, this mountain! Mount Shasta belongs to the Lord!
The mountains of the world will become the mountains of the Lord! …
… I saw this old and ancient principality over the Shasta region, falling in Jesus’ name and I saw the people of God taking over! There is a new plunder of glory, resources, and territories that the Lord is giving to the Bethel Church family…
The Lord is giving to Bethel Church, not just the keys to the city, but new lands and new territories. Bethel will grow, double in size and they will tap into new realms and spheres of influence. They will create and establish their own university which will be a modern-day ORU (Oral Roberts University). There will be all sorts of classes that will launch the Church into a whole new authority of Christian education, medicine, science, and even technology. Bethel Church will only grow! …
… The Lord has given to Bethel Church the land of Redding and the county of Shasta. I am doing a new thing says the Lord!
Mark my words, the Bethel Church family will only grow stronger and grow better! Beauty and bounty is arising from the ashes!
Lim’s message was a positive one for Bethel, like the best-ever fortune cookie predication. But his timing was supremely lousy for Bethel outsiders. I received dozens of angry messages from people who didn’t like Lim’s blog about Redding one bit. I can’t even type some of the words people used to express their disdain and disgust.
It’s unfortunate because Bethel was getting so many well-earned kudos for helping fire survivors dig through ashes, as well as goodwill for offering $1,000 to every household that lost a home to the Carr Fire.
Just like it was bad timing for Lim to post his blog about the Carr Fire on July 30, it would have been equally bad timing for ANC to report the “Beauty & Bounty From the Ashes” message at a time when there were more crucial Carr Fire topics at hand: death, destruction, evacuation, displacement, public safety and mind-numbing loss, fear and grief.
That blog was a silly distraction.
It would be as if a loved one were on his death bed, but out in the back yard there’s that crazy aunt again, doing drunken cartwheels sans underpants.
Forget about her. Someone’s dying in here.
The Carr Fire is nearly 100 percent contained. All evacuations are lifted.
Some of you may decide that the Carr Fire was just one more insult to injury, and you need to pack up and get the hell out of Dodge. While I hate to see you go, I understand completely. In fact, I already miss you. No hard feelings here whatsoever. God speed! Write when you land and tell us how you are. And please, come back and visit. You can stay with almost any of us. After all, the Carr Fire has made us all experts at taking in impromptu guests at a moment’s notice. And you won’t even have to sleep on a cot, or a couch, or share the space with 12 other random people and their friends and relatives and dogs and cats.
But for those of us who choose to stay, I promise you that once the smoke clears, things could get pretty interesting around here, what with the rebuilding and renewal. Eventually, we’ll see blue skies again. Rain will come. New green growth will emerge from the ashes.
Plus, if Lim’s prophecy has legs, I’m sticking around just to see what happens. Who knows, we might even get a new car out of it.
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