My history with fires goes way back.
In 2007, I was one of the Westmont College students trapped in the Murchinson Gymn for 15 hours while firefighters lined the perimeter of the building and the roof with hoses while a savage wildfire swept through our campus.
The fire came so quickly, there was no time to evacuate the campus nestled in the foothills behind Montecito. We could feel its heat from inside the gym. All the girls had to use the men’s locker room because the trees over the women’s restroom were on fire.
We faced death that long night, and when we emerged, the smoke lingered in our skin and hair and nails for weeks.
As the years went on, the fires kept coming. The Gaza War and Operation Pillar of Defense in Grad School in Israel. My father’s triple by-pass and battle with sepsis.
Relationships that didn’t happen. Relationships that did.
And then came 2018. The ultimate trial. In the blink of an eye, the State of California was set ablaze.
The Thomas Fire.
The Carr Fire with its fire-nados, those twisting, terrifying, flame throwing whirlwinds.
The Camp Fire wiped out an entire town.
The Woolsey Fire.
The list goes on and on. It was the deadliest, most destructive wildfire season on record. We self-evacuated three times and watched as our friends and loved ones lost homes and property.
By the time it all ended, I felt like a National Emergency had been called in my soul, not just my state. Nothing felt right. I felt as charred and devastated as the land I love.
Going through the fire is hard. But unlike Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, instead of a quick visit to the fiery furnace, I had moved in. And the fire kept getting hotter, and hotter.
As the heat grew in intensity, doubtful whispers plagued my mind.
Will you still love Me? Will you still trust Me?
There was a lot I had brought with me that was burning up. Misplaced hopes and dreams… ideas about the way my life should look by now… unmet expectations… props I used to make myself feel secure… one by one, up in smoke.
All I had left was Yeshua and myself stripped bare, illuminated in the glow of the flames. Would I make it through? Would I keep the faith? Would I trust him and believe he was right there with me? Would I come out stronger? Would I come out at all?
Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.
You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him – with laughter and singing.
Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.
The prophets who told us this was coming asked a lot of questions about this gift of life God was preparing.
The Messiah’s Spirit let them in on some of it – that the Messiah would experience suffering, followed by glory. They clamored to know who and when.
All they were told was that they were serving you, you who by orders from heaven have now heard for yourselves – through the Holy Spirit – the Message of those prophecies fulfilled. Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this!
So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives.
1 Peter 1:7-17 (The Message)
There is a scene in the pilot episode of Little House on the Prairie where a wildfire threatens to burn up the Ingles rough cabin and everything they’ve spent the last year building on the Minnesota Plains. Mary, Laura, and Carrie hide in the cabin while Ma and Pa do everything in their power to put out the flames sweeping up the prairie. They reach the breaking point, that moment where it is obvious their efforts are futile.
What are two people in the face of a raging brush fire? Nothing.
Nothing without God, that is. Caroline Ingles screams knowing the end is near, and then, there is a crack of thunder. A raindrop. Two. A shower. The heavens open and God is merciful. The Ingles are spared.
What’s more, they are stronger than ever.
I saw this scene a couple of days ago. I cried. They made it, but by the grace of God alone–And I made the conclusion that a pioneer only ever makes it by the grace of God alone.
I am pioneering, what exactly, remains to be seen. But I have set out to find a place to plant and to harvest, a place of safety and creativity, a home for new sounds and fresh words. That means I will face fires. By the grace of God, what I build will withstand them, and his rain will preserve what I’ve built that’s worth preserving.
The rain is coming. I smell it in the air, I imagine I feel the drops falling from the sky. I’m going through the fire, and God willing, I’m coming out gold.
Kind of old school… but Beckah’s song is for today. Enjoy.