The putrid smell of smoke stung my eyes and nose. Tears ran down my face as I wiped the sweat from my brow. The heat of the flame caused me to stagger several steps backwards and I stumbled over a firefighter’s hose.
“Donna! Donna, are you all right?”
I numbly reached for my husband as he embraced my weakened form. “It’s all gone,” I wept.
“Shh…” Tyler held me close as he tried to mask his anxiety. “I’m just glad you’re safe.”
I withdrew to stare at the wretched bonfire as the cross above the doors finally let go. Falling to the ground, it shot flames heavenward and spat sparks into the firefighters’ steady stream of water. I scrunched my eyes tight and buried myself in Tyler’s chest, praying that it was all just a horrid nightmare.
A misty fog enveloped the church site, mixing with the smoldering ashes. Pews lay in burnt heaps and what was left of the nursery was unrecognizable. The few remaining support beams that creaked in the stale breeze, threatened to fall without a roof to support. Everything was covered in a thick layer of sooty black, finalizing the destruction.
I reached into a cooled mound of rubble to retrieve the singed pages of a Bible. Tyler picked through where the pulpit had stood, searching for anything salvageable. It was Sunday morning…and our church was gone.
By ten o’clock, we weren’t the only ones mourning the loss of our building. Two families and a handful of individuals came to search through the debris, sifting through ashes and allowing silent tears to flow. Few spectators dared to pause at the wreckage, staring at the now-empty lot on the edge of town. What had been so unimportant to so many, now seemed a dismal reminder that nothing lasts forever.
And yet, as the sorrow lingered, a still small voice whispered through the silence. Hate had caused devastation. Loyalty to an enemy of God had driven someone to light a match. But the Church Body was far from destroyed.
Years of toil to build up this place of worship now lay in ruins. My clothes and skin reeked of smoke. Blackened wood lay at my feet, and the once-beautiful stained-glass windows had been shattered into a million pieces. …But God was far from done.
The Holy Spirit’s gentle reminder brought me to my knees. This building…this physical, earthly building was so much less than what really mattered.
Those around me were not immune to God’s whisper, and though no words were spoken, we all knew the Truth. God would bring good from this tragedy. Peace could be found where it always had been. Love had not deserted us.
“Our God’s love is everlasting, He will not forsake us. Our God’s love is forever, He will never leave.”
The crisp soprano voice echoed through the emptiness, gradually joined by the others. “Though the storms of life may haunt us, Though temptations may abound…Our God’s love is everlasting, He will always carry us. Our God’s love is never ending, He will bring us joy and peace.”
My hands lifted towards the sky as the melody gave my heart wings. Our voices grew stronger with every breath. We would praise our God through the storm. We would not break under the pressure of the world. For He had made us. It was He who offered everlasting life, and nothing, not even a church burned down, could separate us from His love.
“And our love is everlasting, Only He deserves our praise. And our love will be forever, We will worship at His feet.”
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