My four-year-old grandson was standing in the front of the window when I arrived. Usually he runs to me with hugs and kisses, but this day he continued to look intently out the window.
After greeting his parents, who were leaving on a “date,” and taking the baby in my arms, I went to the window and just stood with him.
In a few minutes, he asked if I saw the smoke. Three forest fires were threatening; one was north of Sisters, Oregon. He knew that some of his friends near Sisters had been evacuated because his parents had talked about taking folks in, if needed. (We were seven miles south of Sisters.)
“Yes. Are you worried?” I asked as I too watched the thick smoke billowing near the mountains.
“Gramma, what if it comes here?”
"We'll be fine. Come, sit with me and I'll tell you a fire story."
It was nearly midnight, as the night nurse walked down the quiet hospital hallway, something didn’t look right!
Within seconds she knew it was smoke. Finding the fire, she instructed her helpers to evacuate everyone to the other end of the unit starting with those closest to the fire.
A man came running, "Where's the fire extinguisher?" The nurse told him as she went into the room next to the fire.
The head of the bed was on the wall opposite the fire and she could feel the heat as she neared the bed. This woman was a very sick patient and been asleep for several days. The nurse called her name and told her about the fire. “I can’t carry you! You have to get up!” She was praying, “Lord, let her walk.” The sick lady's eyes fluttered and she slowly sat up.
The wall was getting hotter.
She swayed as she stood on her weakened legs; the nurse wrapped her arms around her. “Hurry!" she said, and she prayed for God's help.
The smoke was so black and thick! Knowing her way around in the dark, the nurse headed toward the sunporch, where an extra bed was stored. As they neared the bed, her patient began to collapse. Another patient grabbed her, and together they lifted her onto the bed. The sick lady's eyes shut once more and she returned to her deep sleep.
Help had arrived. Everyone was being moved to safety.
By the time the fire-fighters arrived, the fire was out except for the still smoldering mattress. The fire-fighters broke the window and threw it outdoors.
We did a head count and all the patients were accounted for including the woman that had set the fire and had run away.
The firemen brought in huge fans to remove the smoke and the nurse's helpers went to ER for oxygen to get the smoke out of their lungs.
Walking down the evacuated hallway, the nurse saw that everything was gray; all the flowers and plants were dead; but no one was injured except for breathing in smoke. It was hard for the nurse to breathe and she was constantly coughing from the smoke. She needed oxygen, too.
It was teamwork- with God’s help- that had prevented a worse tragedy.
“Gramma, she did good! But Gramma, what is oxygen?”
“Doing good was her job... a nurse has to take good care of her patients. And oxygen is pure, clean air that you breathe through a mask. Remember the tanks fire-fighters wear when they go into a burning building? They have oxygen in them.”
As he looked out of the window again, he asked, “Gramma, you know how to take care of us, if the fire comes, right?”
With a hug I answered, “Absolutely, because God is with us and will help us.”
“Oh, yeah, He helped that lady walk, didn’t He?”
“Yes, God provided a miracle.”
When his parents returned, my grandson told his daddy a fire story that ended “...and then I put on the mask and breathed and breathed oxygen. I’m gonna be a fire-man!”
Then and now, Psalm 46:1-3 is true: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging..." or a fire rages in a hospital room. I am eternally grateful for His protection that night knowing that He remains my refuge and strength today and always.
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