Thursday, January 23, 2014

Explosion at the Biodiesel Plant: The news becomes personal

Several years ago, the biodiesel plant was in its early stages. Because I knew some of those involved in its development as well as their concerns about the finances and the process, I was asked to pray for God's will to be done. It may have been one of those things you say without expecting a lot, but it was so heartfelt that I've left the biodiesel plant on my prayer list all these years. My path has frequently taken me down Hwy 15 and, as I've passed the plant, it has been a reminder of my promise to pray. In an odd way, through my prayers, I had begun to feel invested in its success.

When the breaking news alert about the explosion at the biodiesel plant pinged on my phone, I was stunned. My first thought was, "That's our plant, Lord!" I was not just stunned, I was broken hearted for our community and for those involved. I have listened closely for news and cringed as one explosion followed another. The fires that burned all night and were unquenchable because of the danger involved in trying to extinguish them were chilling reminders that circumstances can change in an instant, and in the most unlikely and unwelcome of ways. 

I know the people involved. The names we are seeing on the news are not just letters strung together. They are people I know and for whom I care. I've worked with some, been acquainted with some, and a few I know well. It disturbs me. I do  not like this personal acquaintance with events on national news. I much prefer our local reporter, Angie Barmer, to write a story about our Little Free Library or a recent board meeting. I'm thrilled for her to have an AP photo spreading across the nation, but so sad for the reason. 

I do not like this answer to my prayers. There is a part of me that wants to say, "What are you doing God?"  I want to remind Him that I've discussed this very plant with Him countless times before. I thought He was watching. A part of me is not happy about this. 

But there is an overriding part of me that knows He has been watching all along, and that He has not failed to take note of the need or of my prayers. I know this because, despite four explosions and fires that have raged for more than twenty-four hours, not one person has been injured. There has not been one death. I know prayers have been answered because air quality monitoring is still normal despite billowing smoke. Adjacent homes and buildings have been evacuated but are otherwise unscathed. 

I don't like these events, but despite the explosions, despite the fires, despite the smoke, I still believe the prayers of countless people have been, and will continue to be, answered. I still believe God has His eye on this little piece of Northeast Mississippi. I still believe that, although the plant is said to be a total loss, there remains a plan for all those who depended on the plant for their livelihood, and that plan is for good and not for evil. It's what Scripture says, and I choose to believe it. 

Despite my faith, despite my hope, I still grieve for those involved. I don't yet understand how this will eventually unfold nor what the final outcome will be, but there's one thing I'm sure about. One day I will. It may not be until eternity, but one day I will have all the answers to all the questions and all the understanding I need. That day, it will all make sense. Until then, I'm going to keep doing what I've done for years. Pray for the biodiesel plant and all those involved. Why don't you join me?