TITLE: Will You Give it to Me Now?
By Clyde Blakely
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“Fire! Fire!” My wife’s scream jarred me awake. Running to the living room revealed fire dancing across the top of the curtain at the front porch.
“Get water, get water,” I yelled streaking back to get my bathrobe. Returning, the flames were now racing fingers across the ceiling.
“Everyone out, NOW!”
Our oldest boy headed back to his bedroom and out through a window. My wife and I jumped out a side door to the ground three or four feet below. Our youngest boy was right behind us; turning…he was not there! Smoke and flames were filling the house.
“Aaron! Aaron!” The words lost as the fire was now roaring like a freight train. Crawling back into the house I was about to turn the corner when my wife yelled that Aaron was out. Apparently being confused in the smoke, he didn’t see us jump and went to the back bedroom.
It was maybe 45 seconds from the time of discovery until we were outside watching our home go up in flames. I turned to my wife and said, “I don’t think we have insurance.”
When my term as City Counselor and Mayor were over, fraught with political turmoil and the threats getting out of hand, we decided to move to the country. We bought property with an older manufactured home that was a bank repossession. It took over three month’s work to make it livable. Ten days after moving in we celebrated our first Christmas there; it burnt down the next day. Our insurance agent was scheduled to come out in five days to take pictures and sign papers.
As we watched all our possessions burn, except what we had on, I knew God had done this. But I had a peace in my heart I still can’t describe. I knew He was in it, but was not sure what He had in mind for us. As our youngest and I sat on the back of a fire department vehicle being treated for burns, he asked, “Dad, what are we going to do?”
“We’ll just have to start all over.”
“But Dad, what are we going to do?”
“We’ll just have to start all over.” I had no other answer.
When you don’t have any resources left, you have to turn to the One Who has everything at His disposal. I knew He had lessons for me to learn.
First, and foremost, being family is more important in this life than anything else. We all escaped alive. Nothing holds more value.
The next lesson God had concerned my attitude about people. Politics had tainted my thinking. Immediately after the fire, there was such an outpouring of love and compassion that still today it brings tears to my eyes. I wish I could relate all the stories of the wonderful blessings people gave and how God received the praise.
In telling people about the fire and its aftermath, I’d mention, “We lost everything we had, didn’t know if we had insurance, and just got out with our lives. I wouldn’t wish it on my worse enemy but I wouldn’t trade it for a million dollars.” And I still wouldn’t.
Later, after digesting all that happened I would continue, “I lost everything I had and one day I will leave it all behind again. People aren’t going to remember me for my titles or how much money I made, but they will remember me for how I treated my fellow man.”
Years later I thought I had pretty well summed up the experience. We had rebuilt a bigger house, the kids were all out of school, I had a good job, and I was enjoying life. Driving to town one day, not really thinking about anything, just enjoying the weather and the clear, blue sky, God spoke, “I took everything from you once, and you will leave everything behind one day, but will you give it to Me now?”
That is a day to day question. One I try to live by. Even when I take the dogs for a walk on the hill, I know it all “belonged” to someone else before me and when I’m gone it will “belong” to another. But it really is God’s and always will be. My life here is short and I’m learning just what really is important, each and every day.
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