Thunder cracked the sky when a lightning bolt ripped through the roof of our home, igniting a fire that redefined our normal that Tuesday night in March 2017. The house snapped dark and shook. It was as if a bomb had gone off.
“I think we got hit!” Hunter screamed from the family room. We hurried outside to see if it was true. Our neighbor Jeff ran across his yard to ours yelling a confirmation, “I think you got hit! I saw lightning hit your roof!”
The next few minutes were a blurry race against the clock. Get the dogs out! Get the cars out! I’ll grab the computers! And that’s pretty much all we had time for. The flames and smoke kicked us out of our home and far from warmth or comfort.
Sirens roared. Red lights flashed.
Fear and helplessness stood in the rain right beside me as I watched it all play out from across the street. My feet were naked. In the chaos and commotion, I didn’t think to put any on. Someone noticed and placed a pair of leather boat shoes before me. I had no idea whose they were, but I gratefully slipped them on.
The minutes seemed like months in the moments between the arrival of the fire fighters and the point at which they had the hoses hooked up to a water source.
Hurry up, guys!
Flames raged wildly from my closet window. The house glowed bright with orange. Was this really happening?
Two trucks. Three. Four. Firemen running and shouting. Police on the scene. News cameras and reporters.
Why was it taking so long?
Neighbors everywhere. Soaked. Stunned. Standing in support. Offering prayers and a place to stay. They’d all felt the earth shake within their homes when ours was hit.
Once the fire was contained and fully out, we were allowed to go back in to grab a few personal items. It was almost 1am. Darkness hung thick in the air. It’s standard procedure for the power to be cut, so the firemen led us through the ashes, debris and water with handheld lights.
Our upstairs looked like a smoldering freight train had passed through, hurling darkness and destruction. Soot and debris were all around. Water and smoke everywhere. And ashes. Heaps and heaps of ashes. Could this really be our home?
Yet God’s peace was in the midst of it all, calming me. “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:1b-3a).
In that season of ashes God bid me to trust Him. Time and time again. In the frustration, exhaustion and tears. As I spent time in prayer, I sensed Him inviting me to trust His timing, His plan, His sovereignty and His ability to restore and make new.
The Lord went on to tell His children, ” This is what the Lord says—he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:16-19).
What former or fiery things have left you dwelling on the past?
Is there something or someone the Lord is bidding you to trust Him with today?
Maybe yours isn’t a house fire or literal ashes, but a prodigal child, a crumbling marriage or an aging parent? Maybe you’re passing through deep waters of a health battle, unemployment or a financial burden.
God is at work in the middle of every struggle and storm. Even when questions loom and pain is present. He is faithful and powerful, able to do more than you and I can ever ask for or imagine.
Let’s ask for and imagine a fresh rising of strength and hope today as we trust God’s goodness – even when our circumstances burn like fire and smell like smoke.
You are faithful and good at all times. Thank You for promising to never leave or forsake Your children. Please strengthen me to face the fires before me today with courage and honor. Help me to trust You.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE
Read what God told His people in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
How does this speak to you today? Tell me or write a prayer of response in the comments section of my blog.