We are on a tour of the Panama Canal and this is a story about some of the mountains and volcanos along the way.
First let’s talk about Italy. Four fifths of Italy is in hills or mountains. On August 24, 79AD Mt. Vesuvius erupted with 100 times more energy than the Hiroshima atomic blast. An estimated 16,000 residents in Pompeii and Herculaneum were killed.
Italy is home to Europe’s three active volcanoes, Etna, Stromboli, and Vesuvius. Vesuvius is considered the most dangerous in the world because of its explosive eruptions and the 3,000,000 residents in proximity. That's a picture of Vesuvius above with Naples in the foreground.
We were in Hawaii in January. Rhonda and I biked down a volcano. Hawaii was formed by undersea volcanoes. Due to continuous eruptions, Hawaii is the only state to be increasing in land area.
Did you know the Panama Canal is in Panama because of a Volcano? The American Public, Congress, and the President were firmly in support of a canal in Nicaragua and it seemed ready to commence poste-haste. A few determined men swayed the President, and over the course of several years this minority group won the support of most engineers and sea captains. One engineer had warned of the threat of volcanoes and earthquakes in Nicaragua. Still the Congressional Committee was un-swayed and the final vote authorizing the canal was clearly going to approve a Nicaraguan canal.
On May 8, 1902 a long dormant volcano, Mt. Pelée, erupted killing nearly 30,000 people. Over the next few weeks, other volcano and earthquake activity shook Nicaragua. The Nicaraguans anxious to have the canal, (along with key congressional leaders) assured the committee that Nicaragua had been free of this kind of activity since 1835. Congress was still poised to move forward in Nicaragua. On June 16, one of the engineers advocating Panama, sent each Senator a message with a 1 cent Nicaraguan postage stamp pasted on it. The picture on the stamp? Nicaragua's Mt. Momotombo in magnificent eruption with a railroad in the foreground. Three days later the vote barely passed in favor of a Panamanian Canal.
While God does not specifically say volcanoes in the Bible, he talks several times about smoking mountains, and Micah 1:4 says “The Mountains melt beneath him and the valleys split apart, like wax before the fire, like water rushing down a slope.” Psalm 104:32 says “…he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke.”
The truth is, many of the people behind the canal faced numerous mountains and volcanos in the effort to build the canal long before Pelée erupted; disease, death, financial ruin, personal attacks, and political obstacles. They climbed a mountain of engineering problems for which no solution was known to exist. They proceeded with faith and perseverance no matter the obstacle.
Did God cause that long dormant volcano to erupt for his purposes? I think so. Does he put mountains in our way and allow them to erupt for his purposes?
We have all faced mountains in our lives; we’ve all walked through fiery times. Often, as we look back, we see these are the times of personal growth; times where we grow closer to God and the ones we love. These are often times we learn valuable lessons and grow stronger.
If you’ve been following our journey on Facebook, you may have seen the beautiful tropical lands we are traveling through. As you look at this beautiful tropical paradise, remember it was formed and continues to evolve through fiery, earth shaking events. Reflect on the beauty and blessings God gave you through those life-changing challenges you faced. Then proceed with perseverance and faith.