As I sped down the street, my heart was beating out of my chest in anticipation of what I would see. I had just left my sister's bridal shower, walked into a store to get a cute little blouse to wear to my friend's 50th birthday celebration...which was a huge deal...when I got the call.
My husband answered, "Hey, where are you?"
"Um, chilling," I said jokingly trying to pay him back for all the jokes he had been playing on me the past few days.
"Where are you?," he persisted.
"Why dude, what's up?" I said with a slight attitude since he didn't seem to want to play along with me.
"Jamonica, the house is on fire" he said with a certain calmness in his voice that made me think he was now playing by my rules.
"Really? That's the best you got?"
"No, really. Jamonica. I had to call 911. The house is on fire."
"What? Are you serious? Where are you?" I questioned.
"I'm ok. But I need you to come home."
"I'm coming, I'm coming. I'm right down the street at Ross. I'll be there in like 3 minutes."
I didn't know anything at that point. I didn't know if the house was completely destroyed or if there was just little damage done. I didn't even know what "I'm ok" really meant. Did it mean that he was not hurt at all, or that he was in an ambulance being cared for? So there I was, with no answers to my silent questions, my world turning up side down in my head because I'm thinking the worst. I prayed a little prayer, acknowledging God in the moment, then went on pondering all the possible scenarios that I could encounter as I drove that seemingly never-ending distance of 2 miles to my home. As I veered around the island in the middle of the road and exited onto my street, I saw a devastating cloud of smoke blocking my view. Yeah, I prayed before... but at this point, it had just become real. I shouted out to God from the depth of my spirit, asking that he cover us, asking for a miracle. But not for our stuff. I didn't even think about our stuff right then. I was praying for something greater. I was praying for my husband's life. I was praying for our family. I was praying for our ability to recover from this. I was praying for our souls.
Why is it that when we are tested, we tend to focus on relationships rather than riches? Why is it that in the "fire" of life, everything else becomes minuscule to the true need of every human being experiencing love and fellowship with God and one another?
Could it be that fire has a way of showing us what really matters in life? Could it be that (even though we may not act like this is our truth daily) we all have a deep knowing that the riches of the world really don't matter? All the "stuff" that we spend so much time trying to acquire - that we ruin relationships trying to obtain and lose ourselves trying to sustain - could it be that we are just wasting precious time and resources?
I'm reminded in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 that anything that is not of God... anything that we have and any works that we do that do not glorify him and thus have no value...these things will be burned up in the end and we will suffer a great loss, IF this is what claims our attention. "Burn it all down, Lord" is a prayer that I'm no stranger to praying in good times and in bad. Though, I'd never considered a real fire in my house, I welcomed God to have HIS way in my family's life. Because God's I am keenly aware that fire cleanses and refines!
Don't worry. We didn't lose much. There was about $25k worth of damage, but God spared my husband...my family! It was mainly our deck, paneling and windows outside that were burned up...along with some water and smoke damage and an old burgundy recliner that was seared inside that needed to go anyway. But God left his mark! Did you catch it? The only thing that burned inside the house was an old chair. My husband's favorite recliner, actually. The one he always naps in by the window. But the carpet didn't burn under it, and neither did our vast collection of picture albums and scrapbooks burn right beside it. So even in the midst of this fire, God's presence was personified.
In the aftermath, each day I saw that empty space in the corner where the old burgundy recliner rested, I remembered what was important, I remembered God's sovereignty and from that decided to rest in his presence. Yes, I still pray that prayer, "Burn it all down Lord!" But now I pray it with greater revelation. Knowing that with the fire, I will come face to face with what really matters...I will encounter God's presence, I will experience deep passion and I will receive restoration from the Lord.
Yes, God's fire purifies!