The Wave

“Based on Swanson’s description of the length of time it took the wave to reach his boat after overtopping Cenotaph Island near the bay’s entrance, the wave may have been traveling up to 600 mph.”

On July 9, 1958, one of the most remarkable events in recorded history occurred in a place called Lituya Bay, Alaska. A massive tsunami washed across the bay, wiping out everything in its path. At its peak, the wave stretched 1,720 feet toward the sky – 250 feet higher than the Empire State Building. Entire forests were annihilated in its wake and land stripped of soil down to sheer bedrock.

Lituya Bay is located in southwest Alaska. Consisting of a narrow fjord approximately seven miles long and two miles wide, the bay is famous for hosting four recorded tsunamis over 100 feet high: in 1854 (395 feet), 1899 (200 feet), 1936 (490 feet), and 1958 (1740 feet). On that fateful Wednesday, at 10:16 PM, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake occurred on the Fairweather Fault, about twelve and a half miles from Lituya Bay. This caused the tectonic plates to drastically shift, tilting the entire Lituya Bay toward the ocean. Along with the weakening rock mountainside and a combination of seismic waves, it triggered a landslide that collapsed into the Lituya Bay fjord, generating a mega-tsunami, the highest one ever recorded anywhere in the world.

There were three fishing boats anchored near the entrance of Lituya Bay on the day the giant wave occurred. One boat sank and its crew was killed. The other two boats were able to ride the waves. Among the survivors were Adam Gray, William A. Swanson and Howard G. Ulrich, who each provided accounts of what they observed. Based on Swanson’s description of the length of time it took the wave to reach his boat after overtopping Cenotaph Island near the bay’s entrance, the wave may have been traveling up to 600 mph. (Wikipedia)

I will never forget watching the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed over 230,000 people in fourteen countries. Another struck seven years later off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku, Japan that left 15,870 dead, 6,114 injured, and 2,814 people missing. The root of each of these catastrophes was an earthquake deep under the ocean floor. Debris from the Japanese tsunami is still washing ashore around Alaska.

While doing some research about tsunamis I came across a number of survivors’ stories. A common theme was that they were so paralyzed by fear, it was all they could do to remember to swim. Tens of thousands didn’t. Earthquakes and tsunamis are an unimaginable power that can transform entire landscapes and lives for generations to come. It’s a terrifying experience to be at nature’s mercy. If you can’t get your emotions in check and put healthy thoughts together, you’re dead.

When we don’t realize we’re believing and acting on lies, and we don’t know where the lies are coming from and how to replace lies with truth, it can have a similar affect. When our belief system isn’t based on God’s truth, our thinking becomes twisted, causing unhealthy emotions that will erupt into unhealthy actions. Those lies can paralyze us and distort our thinking, and we forget to swim toward healthiness.

One of the biggest problems most of us have is that we were never taught how to “think through what we’re thinking.” It is vital that take a close look at that underground movement happening deep inside us, keeping us from the life Jesus promised. How do we do that? 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” In other words, we are to think through what we’re thinking, and then hold those thoughts up against God’s truth and see if they pass the smell test. If our thoughts reek of things like shame, condemnation, worry, lust, rage, jealousy, and fear, we know they aren’t coming from God. We know we have replaced the lies with truth when our emotions turn to things like love, peace, joy, kindness, and contentment. When that happens, it’s like opening a pressure release valve, keeping what’s inside from exploding.

Healthy beliefs  healthy thoughts  healthy emotions  healthy actions.


. . . “We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.”   (2 Corinthians 10:5-6, MSG)

Where in my life is this verse connecting right now, and what is the Holy Spirit showing me through it?

Brent Henderson

Welcome to Men Unleashed! This is a place for encouragement and devotionals from Brent.