Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Thursday, March 28, 2024 – Maundy Thursday

By Dan Kelley

Turn Around and Repent

Read: Psalm 139

In January 1994, a 6.7 earthquake hit the San Fernando Valley of California centered on the Los Angeles suburb of Northridge. There were two major 6.0 aftershocks and hundreds of smaller ones. The quake had the highest ground acceleration measurement ever taken in an urban area.

The quake did major damage in the cities of Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Santa Clarita. It was felt as far away as San Diego, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. But most damage was done in Northridge. At between $13 and $50 Billion dollars of damage, it was one of the costliest natural disasters in US History. Fifty-seven people were killed and 9000 injured.

A young student at Cal State Northridge named Carl lived in the Meadows Apartment Complex. When the quake hit Carl’s apartment was destroyed. He was knocked down and trapped in the kitchen. He awoke hours later when he heard sirens blaring nearby. His hope rose. If he could free himself, he could be saved. But the room was full of dust and smoke from nearby fires. He could not see. He struggled from under the fallen cabinets that had pinned him to the floor and crawled to the front door. If he could get through the west facing door to the outside he could be saved. 

But the door frame was jammed and no matter how hard he pounded it would not open. He yelled. He cried but no one heard him. The fear of fire burning him frightened him. The smell of gas caused anxiety. The irrational thought of earthquakes causing a tsunami that might drown him drove him to panic. He smashed on the door again and again but to no avail.

Then he bargained with God. He negotiated what he would do for God if only He would save him. He made promises. He would atone for all his sins. With this hope, he again pushed on the door with all his might. But the door did not move. He cursed God in the dark. Why won’t you save me? He collapsed in exhaustion and despair. He felt totally abandoned.

Early the next morning Carl felt sunlight on his face. In confusion he turned around to see that the eastern wall of his apartment had fallen away and he could walk out to safety. 

The word repent means to turn around. When Carl turned around and opened his eyes he could see the light. He could see the way God had prepared for him to escape those things in his life that had trapped him.


Dear Lord and Savior, You have prepared the Way for us with your own blood. Help us to turn away from the traps of the world and see the light of your love. Amen.

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