On Dec 26, 1989 our house burned down having lived there only 11 days. We escaped with what we had on. But we all survived! Since our marriage three years before we’d already witnessed several untoward events. My wife’s father passed away after suffering a debilitating stroke and I was coming out of small town politics which included two recall attempts and the cutting of brake lines on our car. My friends were concerned a political enemy had started the house fire (they did not). However, my opinion of people was pretty low when we moved out of town, then the fire happened. Christmas, up in smoke!
Our youngest and I received a few burns and cuts getting out. I was off work for a few weeks. During this time my thoughts on humanity changed. First, I was so grateful we all got out. Family is far more important than any possession. Second, I had more clothes after the fire than before. This was so important to me not because of “things” but how those things were acquired: through the loving embrace of friends and family. What the world took from me in the feelings towards my fellow man, God gave it back, packed down, over flowing, abundant beyond my dreams. Thank you, Lord!
It took a few days after the fire before I was able to walk around (I liked to tell people I “hot footed” it out). I went out to the house site; it was still smoldering. I slowly walked around the burnt timbers and ashes. I completed this trip and stopped, tears welling up, just as I looked down a burnt “block” unfolded at my feet. It had been a box of cards my wife saved from her father’s funeral. They were all charred around the edges. I picked up the top one. It read:
There must be a reason
That we can’t see
There must be a reason why,
A reason that we must take on faith
As we do the sun on high…
For we know that life is a journey.
Sometimes long and sometimes brief
A journey on which we all find joy
Mingled with sadness and grief…
So try to remember the joy today,
However hard it may be,
And trust you’ll find comfort
When you know
The reason you now can’t see.
We framed that card and it now hangs on our wall. I don’t know all the reasons why we were allowed to have the house fire but God turned a tragedy into abundant blessing. I wouldn’t trade it for anything because of the lessons He has been teaching me over the years since.
God IS never late. His timing is perfect. Even if it had to be a house fire the day after Christmas and sending a charred sympathy card!
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