Peace and Safety

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
It was Sunday. It was also May 30, Memorial Day, when the nation remembers and honors its war dead. To many of the residents of the war-built suburb of Vanport, just outside Portland, Oregon, the double holiday was a welcome opportunity to enjoy a well-earned rest. How peaceful and pleasant was the scene that quiet Sunday morning! Protected by a built-up highway, railway embankments, and the Columbia river dikes, the low-lying square of jerry-built homes looked as safe and attractive as many older areas around the great western city.
This day being Sunday, a few people went to church. Others, after a late breakfast, happily watched the children leaving for the parks and playgrounds while they themselves settled down for a day of rest. Some of the more roistering inhabitants, having spent the previous night in parties and pleasure, were "sleeping it off." Little did any of the nearly 10,000 residents dream that the swollen, hungry Columbia was quietly gnawing a hole in the spongy embankment protecting the town. How safe they felt!
Until late afternoon peace reigned throughout Vanport. The streets were comparatively deserted, the afternoon movies unusually filled. Some folks worked on their lawns and gardens; others spent the time lolling about the house. In a few of the larger apartments, friends met to drink and party, but everywhere, there was peace.
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them.
Suddenly at 4:15 p.m., the protecting walls to the north and west gave way, pouring millions of gallons of swirling water into the streets and alleys and roads. At first many residents refused to believe the bellowed warning about a sizeable hole in the dike.
"We want to see the water first," said some.
"There is no danger; everything is O.K.," said others.
One officer, attempting to persuade an incredulous householder to evacuate his comfortable home, was told belligerently, "Oh, go jump in the lake!" And before many minutes the town became just that—a lake, fifteen feet deep.
One deputy sheriff, describing the scene, said: "The whole place became a madhouse of people trying to save their lives, their families, and their belongings."
The flimsy, pre-fab houses were swept away on the river's current. Fragile apartments folded like matchwood under the crushing weight of water. Cars and buses were abandoned on the streets when driver and occupants fled to higher ground. Some people swam to safety. Thousands were able to escape by running, or by tugging themselves along human chains of rescuers.
In the wild scramble, wives became separated from husbands, mothers from children. But eyewitnesses estimated that many, paralyzed by fright or overtaken before they could reach safety, were lost in the deep muddy waters. Hundreds had heeded the warning signals and fled. But many others, lulled by earlier reports that the town was in no imminent danger, only scoffed at the wiser ones who were dashing for the high dikes surrounding the mile-square area. No accurate count of the loss of life has ever been made.
Does this account speak to your heart of a coming day when Christ comes to judge the world? Does it serve as a warning to flee from the wrath to come?
Are you safe in Christ? Does the peace of God rule in your heart? Take heed to God's own warning, and prepare now for His coming. But of that day and hour, knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe [Noah] entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matt. 24:36-3936But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matthew 24:36‑39).)