This is the last article in our Burned series and I wanted to share with all of you a personal story that occurred almost 10 years ago. Beauty came from the ashes of our experience.
A couple of months after my husband and I were married this memorable day occurred. All week I had called in to work because of a kidney infection, except on Friday I finally felt the obligation to go in. I was dreading the day because of stressful conditions at work on top of trying to get past the lingering kidney pain.
The Unexpected Flames
In the mid morning my husband called to talk to me on the phone for a few minutes. He was set to go into work around lunch time and get off later in the evening. As we were talking, he walked into our bedroom, and I could hear a distinct change in his voice. He was stunned by something, but I could not see what it was. He finally got across to me that there was a fire. I quickly reminded him of the fire extinguisher down the hallway next to the washer and dryer. He hung up the phone and rushed to spray out the fire.
Our iron had fallen onto the shirt draped on the board waiting to be ironed. When he walked into the room flames were dripping down the shirt sleeves and onto the carpet. He sprayed the fire until he could no longer see flames. The fumes of the spray caused him to leave the room. Having asthma he could not stay to breathe in any more of the dense particles in the air because it was making him cough. He walked down to the office and tell the apartment manager about what happened. He returned and found he had locked himself out and had to return to the office again and retrieve a spare key. As he opened the front door and black smoke billowed out. He says he felt the Lord speak to him and say, “Don’t go in there or you won’t come out alive.”
My husband called me telling me what happened and as I drove home fire trucks passed me along the way. Come to find out, because our fire was in an apartment complex it was considered a 4 or 5 alarm fire. Red and yellow fire engines filled with men lined the streets to make sure the entire complex did not go up into flames. We were a bit embarrassed that all of those men were out there because of our fire.
My husband sat out on the grass across the street from our apartment building crushed. We watched the last of the flames extinguished and saw the firemen shovel our belongings onto heaps on the ground with all types of debris. One other unit was destroyed by fire, the apartment below us was filled with water from putting out the fire.
We had only been married for two months and in some ways it was devastating and honestly interesting. It was devastating to have only the clothes on our backs… my husband not even having a shirt on at the time, was given a shirt from a person in the complex. Both of our immediate families were hundreds of miles away, we were alone in many ways but…
God was working in our lives before our fire to take care of us.
Seeing God’s Care Before Our Fire
I believe it was 2 weeks earlier, an insurance salesman in our church, talked my husband into getting renter’s insurance. Little did we know that our policy would be cashed in full and take care of the apartment complex’s damages too since we were at fault for leaving the iron unattended. The fire chief was astonished that in his long history he had never come across anyone living in an apartment complex with renter’s insurance. That was God’s doing.
We smelled the smell of the smoke and the heat of the fire in the concrete after we were allowed to enter the apartment again. Some things were salvageable like the bookshelf of our yearbooks from high school and college. We received a little money to help us buy clothes for church on Sunday and my husband’s job donated coats, a suit, bedding and towels. My employer gave us half of their Thanksgiving can drive donations and filled our pantry to the brim. Our church took up an offering of around $2,000 to help us. My aunt took us in until there was another apartment ready for us. When our insurance check came in we were able to buy new things for our home, even a Rowenta iron that shuts off automatically and is still working great! God’s provision for our great needs was demonstrated day after day in the weeks after the fire.
“We had nothing but God in that vulnerable moment where we sat on the grass across from the burnt apartment.”
We had nothing but God in that vulnerable moment where we sat on the grass across from the burnt apartment. The song on my heart was, “This is the Day.” God did make the day and I tried hard to console my husband and convince Him not to feel guilty because God knew what would happen to us that day. I did have a turn of emotions and shock a day later that took a while to get over. But in those first moments, I felt God’s presence and His comfort. He was there sitting beside us and comforting us.
Beauty From Ashes
There was beauty from the ashes in our life . If you study about fires, ashes are a fertilizer. They fertilize the ground to make it more productive for seed. That is why when a forest fire occurs new growth will begin again in the seasons to follow.
My grandmother shared this verse with us shortly after the fire,
“…we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.” Psalm 66:12
We were not wealthy because we had a large insurance check handed to us and things given to us. We were wealthy because of God’s presence and comfort was with us. We were blessed with physical things after our losses, but that cannot compare to the spiritual gift of God’s promise to be with us always.
We also became wealthy, because almost to the day, a year later, our first son was born. God gave us the gift of that sweet boy at that specific time, I believe, as a symbol of His love. He was another beauty from our ashes.
I don’t know the fires of your life, how vulnerable you may feel, how alone or destitute you are spiritually or physically, but I pray that you will have trust enough to believe that God is with you. Seek out the comforts of the Holy Spirit, draw nigh to God and watch Him draw nigh to you. Allow the spiritual songs that speak whispers in your heart to fill your mind and sing praises to the Lord. He is worthy of all praise on good days and bad. I do not know exactly how God will bless you after your trials and experiences, but there is certainly a rich reward to those that love Him.
Satan will come and make you doubt in times after harsh fires, but dismiss his lies, and accept that beauty can come from ashes and fertilize your life to make you bloom in your spiritual life. I pray this personal testimony will be a blessing to you. If you are going through any type of spiritual burns and need prayer, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Read the other articles in this series: