New Year’s Day, 1-1-11. I was woken from a sound sleep when the bed
started shaking. This one started gently. I waited to see if there
were more violent waves and a jolt coming, or if this was just one of
the little hiccups that we get very frequently in this part of the
world. It was only a hiccup! Just a gentle shaking and then it was
over. I checked the time. It was 8:01. I lay there, pondering.
Being woken at 8:01 on 1-1-11 by an earthquake was significant for me.
Eight being the number of new beginnings, and one being the “beginning
number,” I couldn’t shake the feeling that God chose this way to tell
me that this would be a year of new beginnings. I was to go into this
year expecting “new beginnings.”
The combination of these two words, “new” and “beginnings,” sounds
repetitive, but it is not. It can mean “starting over, to begin
again.” It implies hope. There is always a chance to have a new
beginning, always a chance for circumstances to change.
I began thinking about my experience with earthquakes. During my first
visit to Japan, a very long time ago, there were many tiny tremors
every day. They were so insignificant that I don’t remember being
afraid. Seven years later, I returned with my husband and our first
son. Earthquakes were a regular occurrence, but “doable.” By that, I
mean that I wasn’t terrified every time the house shook.
That changed after the birth of our second son. We were living in a
house with very loose windows. Typical of houses at that time, our
windows and walls were very thin. Furthermore, the houses were built
very close to each other. In that residential maze of paper-thin
wooden houses, we really didn’t need clocks because we could hear the
neighbor’s clocks when they chimed or cuckooed! The neighbors who
lived behind our house had erected clothes lines on a tin roof over
their garage. For some reason, whenever that neighbor walked on that
roof, my windows rattled. Rattling windows was one of the first signs
of an earthquake. She went out onto the roof several times a day. My
windows rattled every time! It seemed like I was in a constant state
of “high-alert,” always expecting a big earthquake to hit at any
minute. I began to wonder if I could “stand” living in Japan.
One night, several years later, we were living in another town far
away from that tin roof. In the middle of the night there were 5
fairly large earthquakes. I was beside myself with fear. We got out of
bed during several of those jolts to prepare to move our three boys to
a safe place (by now our third son had been born). The shaking would
subside, and we would go back to bed. We would just get back to sleep
when another tremor would come. After the fifth one, I cried out to
God in desperation. He answered me with a picture of Rahab in the city
of Jericho. You know, “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, and the
walls came tumbling down!” That Jericho.
Imagine being in a place where all the houses and city walls collapsed
at the same time. All the houses but yours, that is! Rahab’s house
stood. By faith, she hung a red cord from her window, believing the
word that was given to her by the two spies. If God could protect
Rahab and her family in the midst of such a massive earthquake, surely
He could take care of my family and me. Faith finally replaced fear in
In the Hebrew language, the word for hope is “tiqvah.” Tiqvah also
means “expectation; something yearned for and anticipated eagerly;
something for which one waits.” The original meaning was “to stretch
like a rope.” In Joshua 2, the word is translated, “line” or “cord.”
Rahab was instructed to tie a scarlet tiqvah in her window as her hope
for rescue. In Hosea, God promised that He would transform the Valley
of Achor (Trouble) into a Door of Hope (Tiqvah) (Taken from the NKJ
Bible word wealth).
Let’s let this year be a year of the red cord. Have faith for new
beginnings. Expect fresh starts. Even in the midst of shaking, there
is always hope. We can extend the cord to others, we can give hope to
the hopeless. We can see valleys of trouble transformed into Doors of
Hope. That is the story of Japan Alive. That is our vision…to offer
hope and a new beginning to young people in crisis.