Over the past few months, as Pam and I have driven the roads toward our burned neighborhood, we continue to be taken by the starkness of the devastation of the Waldo Canyon Fire. A scar still remains: matchstick blackened trees; rubble of homes left behind; burned out, flood-vulnerable canyons. And the scars go deeper as there are still 350 families in various stages of chaos in their efforts to rebuild. A similar picture could be taken of the East Coast in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

Not long ago, I blogged of my coming to terms with God’s purposes in our lives through the wildfire that turned our home to ashes. We are still in the process of working with insurance to settle on prices for repurchasing our belongings, and working on another front to rebuild our home.

 
You can imagine that on many occasions Pam and I wonder, “Just what is going on! God, what are you doing? Did you really need to do it this way?!” I love the phrase in Luke 2, describing the young teenage girl who woke up one morning finding herself to be mother to a King and Savior.

After a June Colorado wildfire destroyed our home, my wife, Pam, and I settled into a rental. We are grateful for the place God has provided. One of the first mornings there, as I spent time reading and praying, I lifted my head and found that the house backed into a full view of the burned out mountainside. “Ugh! Really, God? I have to stare at that for the next year?” My heart sank, my soul was weary, and I wondered “why” on so many fronts.

One of the not-so-wonderful tasks that follow a “total loss” (one of our new insurance terms) is itemizing every object that existed in our home the moment before it went up in flames. It’s called taking inventory.

 
Jesus said that a person’s life does not consist of the abundance of their possessions (Luke 12:15). I can attest that this is true. After having lost almost everything, do you know what our hearts miss most?


While sifting and sorting through what remains of our home and our earthly belongings, Pam and I sweated and wept as we looked through the ash heap and twisted metal that had fallen down to the foundation of what was our house. As we dug through various “rooms”  (imagine ashes and remains from the second story guest room, the first story dining room, and the basement storage room all in a 13X14 space) we saw a pattern: Not much survives 2,000 degree heat! What does remain? Metals, porcelain, fired clay pots . . . . We found things like china plates, coffee mugs, porcelain figurines and Christmas ornaments, flatware, copper pipes, and clay pots—much of which only exists in the form of interesting jigsaw puzzle pieces.

That day brought this passage to mind:

The last couple posts about fiery experiences in my life raise the question of God’s protection as described in Isaiah 43:2,3. What does it mean that “we will not be burned”? What does God’s promise of protection really mean?

As a 34-year-old, I led a group on a weekend getaway during a mission trip in Indonesia. That day was an outdoorsman’s delight: hiking to the rim of a volcano! It hadn't erupted in 16 years so it was supposed to be a safe yet adventuresome voyage. Go figure—the volcano erupted.

The recent Waldo Canyon Fire that consumed our home has caused me to think about other times I have encountered flames. (I'm noticing a new theme in my life!) I remember one incident when, as a 27-year-old dad, I used "improper fuel" to start the gas grill.

As I write, the fire in the mountains above Colorado Springs is 98 percent contained and has consumed 18,247 acres. It has been surreal seeing the destruction. At one point there were more than 32,000 people displaced and reports indicate almost 350 homes have been destroyed. Including ours.We are stunned by all this and sobered by the road that lies ahead for us personally and the city as a whole.  We are keenly aware that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity where the hope of the Lord is needed by many thousands of dear souls.

Just a few days ago, my wife, Pam, and I stood on a hilltop in the dark, surrounded by others watching flames and smoke swallow the foothills of Colorado Springs. We knew some of those blazes might be swallowing our home. Those around us feared the same. That night Pam and I held each other close and wept and prayed.