“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (NIV Matt. 6:19-21)
It was a grueling task.
“How much did you pay for this?” He asked as he held up a lovely creamy linen dress that was now ash grey around the seams.
“I only paid seven dollars for it at the consignment store, but it was probably a $75 dress.”
LINEN DRESS. Replacement Cost-$75
And that is what we did. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. We worked on THE LIST. We inventoried everything that had been damaged or destroyed and we added it to THE LIST. Next to each item we assigned the approximate cost of replacing said item. Our insurance adjuster had casually instructed us to compile the list, but did he realize how taxing the job would be?
We had only been married for four years, but we had managed to accumulate a considerable amount of stuff. Family, friends, neighbors, and even casual acquaintances came to what was left of our home and helped us sort through the remnants of our belongings. Their help was a blessing.
Together we went through boxes and boxes of stuff, all of it reeking of smoke and most of it charred. Wedding and baby photos, singed around the edges needed to be pried apart and thrown in yet another box to be cropped at a later date. Some clothes were discarded, others we attempted to salvage through dry cleaning. The chore was physically exhausting because it was emotionally draining. The fire that had ravaged our home had also done a job on our souls.
With the temperature in the living room having reached 1100 degrees, the room looked like a Salvador Dali exhibition. All of our electronic items had melted. The baby’s toys had melted, too. Sometimes it seemed as though our life together as a married couple boiled down to the contents of the home we had lost. We had worked so hard for all this stuff, and now all our stuff was trash.
There were a few things, though, which were not destroyed in the blazes. One of those things was our Bible. Actually, seven Bibles which were located throughout our home were untouched by the fire. We lost a couple hundred other books, but the Bibles survived. Sometimes I try to imagine what those Bibles looked like while the flames were consuming our home. Were they protected in circles of God’s light? Did God actually hold them in His hand? Did the Holy Spirit play a role?
One thing is certain: my family was protected by God’s hand that day. We were safe at a friend’s picnic. I know that the Lord was trying to teach us something through this tragedy which He allowed to touch our lives. Our life together was not in those boxes. Our life together was, and still is, in Him.
We may have lost a lot of stuff that day, but what we found in the Bibles that remained was the riches of God’s grace. For that there is no replacement.
“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” (NIV Rom. 5:17)
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