"When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."
It's an anniversary I don't want to celebrate but I'm writing to commemorate. As I go to sleep tonight I am mindful that this time last year I laid down to rest having no idea of the wake up call that would come in the middle of the night. One year ago a fire destroyed our home and everything inside. I wrote these words a day after the fire:
I need you to know something, from the bottom of my heart, God is Sovereign and He is in control. What I need you to hear and see is that this does not shake my faith. On the contrary. It makes me all the more realize that our lives - this life - is temporary and our reward and our HOME is in eternity. (April 30, 2011)
One year later the words I wrote above still echo in my heart - He truly is Sovereign. He sees. He knows. He hasn't changed. Even when my faith has waivered, He's remained faithful and true.
I know this happened so that I would have no choice but to rely on God. Having seen his deliverance, having experienced His hope and being the recipient of your prayers, I pray you'll give thanks with me. We know that fire refines. It can be a painful process but when the chaff is burned off, the flames produce a purified substance that can withstand.
A year later, there is no remnant of the fire that claimed a home and its contents, but the course has been altered. The road continues to wind and twist and turn and it's rocky and bumpy and tough to pass. Even still, I can say this happened as yet another part of the story, the tapestry He is weaving that continues to shape me and refine me.
"But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God...He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many." 2 Corinthians 1:9-11
Knowing what I know now, I still don't have all the answers. If you ask me why this happened, I would tell you so that God could be glorified. If you ask me what blessings have come, I would tell you watching the body of Christ beautifully work together. If you ask me what scars remain, I would tell you just because a house was rebuilt doesn't mean life has returned to normal. But if you ask me what I've learned, I can proclaim:
"God is a God of the second chance. God is a redeeming God. Sometimes He redeems the mess and brings “beauty from ashes, the oil of joy for mourning; the garment of praise for the spirit of despair,” and sometimes He even “restores the years the locusts have eaten.” – Jill Briscoe
One thing I can note, even this blog began after posting updates and thoughts after the fire. It's a part of my story now and it helped lead to this platform to share with you. This fire may have destroyed a home but it continues to refine my life.