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Crosswalk the Devotional - Feb. 17, 2010

February 17, 2010

After the Fire
by Katherine Britton, News & Culture Editor

"When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze… Do not be afraid, for I am with you." - Isaiah 43:2b, 5a

Journal entry from Saturday, February 13:

There have been few times in my life when I've felt real fear. Insecurity, nervousness, apprehension, dread, unpleasantness, and all those other pseudo-fears are more well known to me. But today, when I thought I was going to lose my house, I felt the real thing.

And yet, I also felt grace and mercy. I suppose the protective sense of possession pushed me towards the kitchen fire instead of running away from it, but that's not what made me scream, "Oh God!" as a prayer. After I flung flour and baking soda on the blaze - for lack of a handy fire extinguisher - and saw the fireball relent for only a second, I ran to the back door and yelled for help. And amazingly, on a cold winter day in January, help was already there.

One neighbor was chatting with another in his driveway when he saw the smoke billowing out and heard me. Another was just bringing a load of groceries inside his house. Both ran for their fire extinguishers. And we needed both.

I met grace again when I prayed against logic for my husband to return from the grocery trip at that moment. I had done everything I could in the thick smoke, and was bolting out the front door as he stood fumbling for his house keys. Ten seconds later, after seeing a fireball that had spread to the cabinets, and realizing that there was nothing else he could do, the neighbors were at the door with those precious fire extinguishers. One almost put out the blaze before it sprang up again, and David realized he had to cut the power to turn off the burner. The second extinguisher put out the grease-fire-turned-kitchen-fire for good.

The fire department arrived a good three to five minutes later. I suppose that's fast, considering how quickly everything happened, but it wouldn't have been fast enough to prevent the fire from reaching inside the walls and ceiling, and probably our bedroom above the kitchen. Our neighbors' saved our house.

The final grace that morning was the friend at my side when we heard the dull boom and saw the orange flare. While I ran to do what I could and yell for immediate help, she ran for her phone upstairs and made the first 9-1-1 call. She also made sure I wasn't crazy enough to stay in the house beyond that critical window of time - I don't think my flight instincts suffered so badly, but it never hurts to have someone yelling "GET OUT!" at times like that. While David handled the insurance calls, she was the emotional support I needed after the shock. Chalk one up for adventures with friends.

Tonight, about eight hours after the kitchen fire that was too big to be called a grease fire, I still sit in my own house. The vibrating noise of a charcoal filter is coming from the kitchen, where the cleanup has already begun. The emergency smoke team has made two visits, and, although our whole house smells like greasy smoke, we've already started the recovery. We won't sleep here tonight, but we'll be back soon.

Right now, my overwhelming sense is thankfulness. Seriously. The moment when I realized I had dumped everything on the fire that I could and would have to leave was one of the worst moments of my life, because I had to run away from all the love David and I have put into this house. And all of those "coincidences" that came together to save the house - all of this humbles me. If we had had to wait for the fire department, I would not be writing this entry from my own house, and I would be learning the more uncomfortable side of Romans 8:28. Today, I see all the more clearly that I owe it all to grace. And that's actually something to celebrate.  

Further Reading:

Isaiah 42:1-13
I Prayed for Zucchini

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