My son’s birthday has just passed. My son is a gift from God, one more gift that I really don’t deserve, but such is the rich life that God has given me (here, here, here). It’s as if God doesn’t see “me”, He sees a “cleaned up” version created when Jesus, the only sinless human who ever lived, took a bullet for me. Sacrificed himself so that I could live. A huge, huge story. People even wrote it down. But that’s a different story.
The best part of my son’s birthday this year was our plan to rejoin our friend Ron, fishing guide extraordinaire, on Lake Oroville all Sunday for what is always a great day fishing. Ron spends the entire day focused on our having a great time. Lost lure? He hands over another rod baited and ready to cast. No fish here? We troll to the next magic fishing spot. Last time out we caught (and released) 44 bass of various types – what a hoot!
Given our red skies and smoky air today, and where he lives, I called this evening to make sure everything is okay.
Everything’s not okay.
Ron fled his home with his wife, the shirt on his back, and the RV that he just had time to hitch on his way out. The street behind his was in flames as he left. His boat, equipment, customer lists, etc were all left behind as they evacuated their home as the “Camp” fire in Butte County bore down on Paradise CA like a gargantuan flame thrower. He doesn’t know if his house stands or doesn’t. Probably won’t KNOW for days. But the odds are not good that he has a home to return to.
He and his wife are so grateful to have escaped. Not everyone was so lucky. Doesn’t know what’s next – what bridges they will cross in the coming days and weeks. But he is a believer, and he knows there is a plan. Ron left behind his home, his community, his livelihood – and escaped with his life.
What was supposed to be 130 miles worth of fuel got them (barely) to the base of the hill after 7 hours of dodging dead and burned out cars and dealing with the congestion of thousands likewise fleeing. Most gas stations were not operating as power was off. One was, and they got fuel and kept going. And eventually stopped running. Wherever he is, wherever the RV stopped its evacuation, he figures he’s there for, well at least weeks. His community supermarket burned to the ground. Where they are now, they have a “Sam’s Club”. Ron bought a membership, and they went shopping. He realizes that they have not eaten in God-knows-how-long, and are lightheaded as they come across some “free sample” setup. The server has overheard something from his wife, or maybe just put two and two together. He gives Ron’s wife a plate of food. When he sees Ron diving in as well, he sets up a place for them to sit, and makes a second generous plate of food.
I know that Ron’s livelihood is his boat and equipment, and tell him that he is welcome at our place, and that I know people with boats – I’m sure someone will lend him one to help get him back in business. My son has lots of rods. Fishing is his love as well. Ron says he has already had two friends offer their boats.
I hate California’s politics and emotional, “progressive” bent. It’s irrational. It’s unbiblical. It’s unhealthy. It’s destroying what was not only the seventh-largest economy in the world as I grew up, but was also an unbelievable intersection of perfect weather, natural beauty, and an optimistic and industrial people who were sure that tomorrow was better than today. Mostly middle-class people full of hope and charity. Today the middle class is being hollowed out by hollow philosophies. There are homeless everywhere I look once I get off the beaten path in my prosperous suburbs. Those who are doing well are doing very well. Many in the middle have left or are leaving.
I was born in California, which was to the United States what the United States was to the world – the beacon of freedom and prosperity. I now live in Californizuela, up-and-coming communist utopia. I see almost everyday the ignorance and ideologies that have gotten California where it is. Tomorrow I’ll be living in a unicorn-dotted dream of free college and healthcare, no borders, and a hearty “F U” to our President and the country, led by the illustrious Gavin Newsom. It’s messed up. But I’m still surrounded mostly by good people, with good values, who want nothing more than to be able to chase the American Dream, and live a life of freedom and pursuit of happiness in a California that is increasingly hostile to and condescending to the ethics and morals that built her. It’s much like watching a loved one progress through the agonies of Alzheimer’s. A slow-motion train wreck. We recognize the problem, but are mostly ineffectual to positively influence the result.
But today was not my day for politics. Today was the day to get ready for an epic fishing day with my son. Today became the day to rally around a friend, an American who believes, and works “as if for the Lord”. Our Sunday will likely become a day of volunteering, doing whatever we can to come together around refugees of a community who have lived through a horrendous natural disaster. We’ll see real people giving what they have to help those who have lost.
My son, the gift. When he got home this evening and heard the news, he made plans to make an assortment of soft baits for Ron, some of which Ron raved about when my son had made them earlier. He ordered the supplies, and will spend many hours recreating our secret weapon “purple rain” (if we told you how we’d have to kill you) and other baits that Ron had praised so on our last trip. We’ll pull together in faith and love, do what we can to help him and others, and someday enjoy another epic fishing trip together. Americans, behind enemy lines, in Californizuela.