This 5 minute video of the Japanese tsunami is astonishing. That must be why, to date, it has more than 12 million hits on YouTube.

The footage carries the viewer up over language. I watched it in total silence. But the word that sums it up for me is “suddenly.” As in:

Waves of destruction roll over the land, until it lies in complete desolation.
Suddenly my tents are destroyed; in a moment my shelters are crushed – Jeremiah 4:20

You wake up, shuffle to your coffee pot and carefully enact your morning ritual. You plan your day…meet Diane at Starbucks, drop by the office for a few hours, play golf this afternoon…

All the while something large and shattering is already on the way to your life. You will do nothing you planned. Your life will change, perhaps even end, “suddenly.”

Life’s changing moments are usually outside our control. We all hold the illusion that we can originate or manage change. But, as my friend Rex Miller says, “Real change comes from somewhere else and invades us.” We do not see it coming and we cannot control its content or its pace.

We often forget that good things also come suddenly.

You wake up, shuffle to the coffee pot…not knowing that great wealth or your future spouse or healed relationships are already walking up to your front door.

You will suddenly collide with delirious joy.

The same Bible that records sudden tragedies also recalls a sudden earthquake that shook a prison to pieces, releasing the captives (I wonder how conservatives would view a similar “act of God” in our time).

Perhaps the real challenge is to embrace all the suddenlys as coming from the hand of a kind God.

Even the tsunamis have a way of cleansing and reordering the landscape of life.

Go back to the site of this video in ten years. I can confidently predict that it will reflect the sparkle, shine and great joy of renewal. The earth never turns on itself, never destroys itself. It only dances to the rhythms of renewal.