Friday, June 12, 2015

One Year Ago

I had literally been at work 15 minutes on this day last year when I got a call from my wife that I will never forget.  My wife is a live wire.  So I'm used to taking phone calls from her while she's riding an emotional high.  It's part of my job in our marriage to remain calm & help untangle the interesting knots life can tie together when she calls me about something disturbing her.  But this call was about much more than an "interesting knot."  I can still remember asking her to clarify three times when she told me, "The house is on fire!"

I immediately walked into my supervisor's office & told him what I had just discovered.  He gave me leave without hesitation.  I sped home hoping to find a quarantined, controlled situation that only had the potential to get out of hand.  What I found was a recently subdued situation that had already been totally out of control.  Less than an hour ago I had walked down from our 2nd level.  I had just used our bathroom.  I had gotten dressed in our bedroom.  I looked in on our children in their rooms.  Now, one could scarcely say that either bathrooms or bedrooms existed.  Only burned shapes & shadows remained of what I woke up to a short time ago.

The six members of my family besides myself all made it out.  Though they stood in front of our home with no shoes & wearing only pajamas, they were alive!  They were safe!  When I approached them, I could tell that they needed to see me at that moment just as much as I needed to see them.  I hugged each of them.  And as I did, the chaos around me seemed to fade.  I had a blessed quietness in the midst of all the noise. Multiple fire departments were scrambling to make sure there would be no re-ignition.  Neighbors near and far stood by & watched as if Will Smith were filming a new movie right outside our door.  Only I'm not Will Smith.  And this was no movie.  It was real life.  "My real life."  "Our real lives."  There was no director to yell, "Cut!"  This was really happening.  The 2nd level of our home was totaled.  Thousands of dollars of property loss & damage had occurred.  But as I embraced my wife & children, only one thing mattered.  All those God had entrusted to me were there.  Not one was lost.

My family shed many tears over the next several days, but many of those were tears joy!  Joy because God had shown such great Grace to us!  Joy because we were together!  Joy because despite us not having much of anything, we had each other! I understood what the Lord meant when He said, "Life does not consist in abundance of possessions," (Luke 12:15) more clearly than I ever had before.  Our church family & friends took wonderful care of us in our time of need, & helped to further solidify a right perspective on possessions.  Much was gifted & donated to us.  People helped & served us with their things by parting with great stuff in order that we wouldn't have to go without.  They could never do that if their possessions owned them.  People don't give away their gods! But they loved us more than their stuff, and it made a world of difference.  The kindness & support shown to us made a mark that will never be erased.

So here we are!  One year later!  Still standing!  Not because we're so strong, tough, or godly.  But because God had mercy on us!  He gave bred to beggars, and we are eternally grateful!  I say to you today, that while there may not be a literal fire in your house, their might be a fire somewhere in your life today.  I pray that you wouldn't mourn as the world mourns in your loss.  If you are in Christ, our hope is beyond things that this world can take away!  Trust God with your suffering, loss, hardship, & outward circumstances.  These are tools that He uses to do the work of cleaning & sanctifying us inside.  "His ways are higher than our ways, & His thoughts are higher than our thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9).  He knows what's best for us, & how & when to administer medicine that we would never prescribe for or take ourselves, despite our great need of it.  He is worthy of our trust.  We gain much more from trusting Him than we do in questioning Him.

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