Beauty From Ashes

 

Beauty from Ashes

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.

Broken-Hearted Beginnings

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.

For You

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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Burned By Deep Ministry Hurts

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHealing From Deep Ministry Hurts

 

Confession #2: Some Days I Want to Quit

Our boys recently learned to ride their bikes without training wheels. Our oldest, Uno, who is 7, took off after only a few spills very successfully. Our second, Dos, who is 6 years old has excelled in many areas over his brilliant big brother recently. We were expecting Dos to leave Uno in the dust and take off with gusto. Boy, were we wrong!

Dos struggled with maintaining his balance, his wobbly arms had him going in circles and toppling into the pavement repeatedly. He cried and looked at his palms, I encouraged him to get back up and going. His face reflected fear and uncertainty but he would pick up the fallen bicycle and try again. He was obviously discouraged and I pictured God encouraging me in the same way.

The Ministry Papa helping our son, Dos, learn to ride his bike without training wheels.

The Ministry Papa helping our son, Dos, learn to ride his bike without training wheels.

I went and helped him for 10 minutes as he fell and would look up at me with his sad eyes. I would pick up the bike for him and wait for him to straddle the seat and try again. I eventually went about my other business as he continued to try. Then, Dos was done, he was ready to quit and I let him. Enough was enough for that day. I knew he was not going to master his skills in a day so he wheeled his bike into the garage. I felt for him and knew the enjoyment he had while riding his bicycle with training wheels was in the past. He was growing up a bit that day. Two weeks later he is still struggling to be steady and fast and he still crashes often. I believe it is only a matter of time before he is sailing happily down the sidewalks of our neighborhood.

Sometimes I feel like my son, so weary from trying things and failing. Tired of falling and having to regroup and straddle the life God has called me to again… God knows my heart and knows I want to quit but He encourages me to get back up. Sometimes I really wish He would just let me lay there and get run over by a car, surely it wouldn’t hurt as bad as the failure and the hurts of this life.

The days I want to quit ministry are usually the times where our ministry is so busy that we have no time to sit down, spend quality time with our children, or even rest. It’s the times when people are down your throat about factors in ministry that are beyond your control or critical of the things I have invested time and heart in; the times I have neglected my family to finish the task. Some days, my weariness in well-doing and conflict make me want to pack a few bags, drive off in our mini-van, wave sayonara, and move to a life that does not involve so much heartache and frustration. I just don’t have the guts to really do it… Quitting is not really an option, it’s only a temptation.

The times I have quit in the past have really come back to bite me in the you know where… and God has quickly given me His chastisement. I hate to hurt, so back to God’s path I go, like the little plow donkey with its blinders on. Asking for forgiveness and choosing to repent. No more looking around into the world for what I need to fulfill the longings in my heart, I must choose to put my blinders on and look at His path for the life of our family.

So, I stay where God has called our family. I stay in the Lord’s work. And I stay for the sake of His testimony through my life.

We are thankful for the vacation weeks that we have, but honestly, sometimes with our busy church schedule, it just does not seem like enough. I get tired of pedaling and moving forward, and my bike crashes. Our church has a pretty busy schedule, busier than some, not as busy as others I realize… then again, I don’t know if it is the combination of having 4 young children, homeschooling, ministry responsibilities, and just life or my inability to be able to manage them all properly.

I admit, the emotional female creature that I am, my bike crashes a lot. But God always stands beside me and encourages me. He reminds me of Proverbs 24:16, “for a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” I get up and get going because deep down I do not want to be a quitter. In my strength though, that is exactly what I am…

I think of how wonderful God’s grace is to give me enough love to help me, patience enough to stand the bike up for me, the strength to walk and run beside me in all that He has called us to do. The long-suffering to know that I will probably just fall down in a few moments, the love to dust me off and kiss my hurts. The kindness in His eyes when I look at Him crying and the gentle comfort He provides as He speaks to me through His Word.

The only thing that really keeps me from quitting is God.

Without the Holy Spirit speaking to me before I pack my bags and wave sayonara, I would have ditched this gig a long time ago. He is my reason for living, His beautiful and perfect Son gave me eternal life, I must not quit, I must go on, for His sake. He lives, so that I may have life more abundantly. He called me, I must remain faithful.

So, there you go… you now know that naturally I am a quitter, but God is my greatest cheerleader in this bicycle ride of life so that I can live and do His will. Although some days I want to quit, He is my reason for living and for staying.

Thank you Lord for never giving up on me!