Scorching dry temperatures continued to escalate. Intense winds changed directions unpredictably. Opaque lining of clouds of rushing smoke veiled the sky. The radiant sun stooped down with crimsoned face.
“Forty-six degrees centigrade,” Jason informed his family. “Today is the hottest ever in the last three weeks. I heard that forest fires have started 27 km southeast of us. We must be ready to evacuate any time.” A concerned look crossed his face.
Carla whispered, “Run for our lives?...But, where to?” She begged her own heart to quieten its pace. The disconcerting reality of bushfires in rural Victoria decidedly refused to abate its course. Carla struggled within her. “I am not prepared to go and be homeless. O Lord, please preserve us and our house that we do not have to evacuate. But... Your ways are perfect. Your will be done.”
“’Jesus, I am resting,
Resting in the joy of what Thou art
I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart’ ”
The little ones found refuge with Carla on most evenings. Jonny choked up the words in asking, “Mamma, do you think our house would burn down too?”
“The Landon’s and Edward’s houses did,” Tod raised his searching brown eyes to Mamma’s kind ones.
“God cares for us.” Carla smiled and sat Josiah on her lap. “Come children, Katie has picked her story now.”
One of the stories was about a nine-year-old boy and his family in Russia. Rebels determined to fight against the Russian government by setting fire to peasants’ houses as they trekked the path in the blizzard and deep snow. Several of Ivan Stravitsky’s friends’ houses did not escape the rebels’ relentless and vicious deeds.
Further on in the story, Ivan’s father read from Zechariah 2:5, “For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.”
Ivan was afraid. But he prayed for a wall of fire for protection. Peering out the window early morning, the family saw a strange wall.
“GOD answered!” Katie beamed her five year old cheery face. “God did put a wall all around their house!”
“And the soldiers missed their house to set fire to!” Jonny began an adventure in his mind.
Carla continued soberly, “It was a wall indeed! A wall of snow that had drifted overnight and covered their house! What a timely story.”
“Mamma, can we pray for a wall around our house too?” Tod asked thoughtfully.
“Jesus takes care of us!” chorused Katie and Josiah.
Jonny echoed Ivan’s wish for a secret place to hide in... A place of fortress- -a real fortress to run to.
“We can ask GOD, shall we?” Carla spoke tenderly.
“O Lord if it is Your will, please surround us... with a wall of rain?”
The children’s faith, much bigger than their stature, prayed for a wall of rain every day.
Engaged in the tasks at hand, hymns and an inspiring message filled the air as Carla busied wiping walls and cupboards.
“This Harris’ house will soon be occupied by the Landon’s, whose house was burned down in the bushfires last week.” Mother peered out the kitchen door. “I’d better get busy; Jonny, Tod and Katie are at the tree swing.”
Tod burst through the door, “Mamma, come quick! Katie had an accident.”
“Oh Tod, please bring her in. My hands are full right now. Mamma must finish washing two more cupboards.”
Despite the alarming news, Mother briskly moved to the next cupboard.
“Mamma, she’s really terribly hurt!”
“Ask Jonny to help you carry her in, Son. I’ll be right out. ”
The children finally returned with Katie. They had taken turns in carrying her as close as possible to the door.
“O Lord, she is badly hurt!” She felt remorseful as she relieved Tod of his burden.
“She was hanging onto the rope, and she asked me to push her high,” explained Jonny, “then she swung into the tree!”
“Thank you for caring for her, Son. I think Katie has a broken thigh bone,” Mamma said kindly and kissed him.
Turning to Katie who was in tears because of pain, she said, “You’ll be alright. I’ll lay you on the sofa. I’ll call Dad to come back and we’ll take you to the hospital.”
“O Lord, Your hand is always perfect from beginning to end. Please help me to wait patiently, to be trusting and surrendered to YOU all the way through.”
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