Thirty-two hours ago I was thrown into the middle of the most devastating FIRE I have ever encountered! It exploded around me like a BOMB!!! The noise was so loud and earth shattering that we could think of nothing else except explosives being dropped all around us, while shooting flashes of light shot through the dark night sky! We were thrust out of a deep sleep not knowing what was going on all around us! I looked over at Jim and we both roused to the shocking awareness that a raging fire was right outside of our neighborhood!
The phone rang and the voice on the other end said, “Your neighborhood is being evacuated!” I groggily stumbled to the front bedroom window and looked out! The sight was chilling. The sky was dark black and below it was the deepest, darkest color of orange I had ever seen. In the middle of the orange was a billowing black cloud of smoke from a raging fire.
Due to our Missionary training, we always have a battery powered transistor radio handy. Jim turned it on and the tragic news hit us like a ton of bricks. Above us in the hills of Sonoma County a fire had broken out and was spreading and speeding toward us at record breaking speed!
We had no time to think, only react! Well, I take that back slightly. My brain immediately told me to “GO HOME”, flee to Sacramento where family was close by! That was my first thought when my human nature stepped in. But those words never left my brain to come out of my mouth.
It is in these times of crisis friends, that we truly find out what God can do with us! Are we ready? Are we available to His leading, His calling and His filling in our spirits? Those questions are only answered when we are thrust into crisis mode!
I pray that we would all continue to fill ourselves with His Word and His prayers in the non-conflict times. So that we are ready in the CONFLICT to engage Him and be used by Him!
He is Faithful! He is in complete control!
I turned to Jim, who was listening intently to the radio, and listened. He said that the fire was spreading so quickly that the evacuation centers in Santa Rose were filling to capacity and overflowing already. He said, “We need to get to our church and become an evacuation center for anyone in need.”
He immediately called the news station, radio station and talked to the fire chief in Sebastopol. We grabbed our suitcase, toiletries, anything we could grab of importance, loaded our cars, put Jim’s bike on the back of his car, put our dog in my car and headed to our church under the blackened sky and orange skyline! It took us over an hour to go less than 10 miles, but we got there. We were able to bring about 60 of our neighbors with us!
On our drive to church I was struck by the crazy thought of one of my favorite movies, ‘Leap Year.’ In it the question is asked, “If you had 60 seconds to flee your home, what would you take?” Friends I found out the answer to that question. It was all sitting in my car around me. My children’s Christmas stockings, our family portraits on our walls, the chiming clock my dad gave me, (even though every member of my family would have been happy if I would have left that behind!), my children’s old sports jerseys, the dagen heart glass my grandmother gave me, the baseball bats my Dad gave Tyler when he was born and our family recipes! Thank goodness Jim is a bit more practical and he grabbed our bag of important papers: passports, birth certificates, marriage license, insurance papers etc.!
I did organize and put them together however, but you can see where our hearts go in the middle of crisis!
They were all thrown into my car and represented my life! As we drove away in the erie silence and oppressive darkness, ash fell on us like a severe snow storm.
As we enter the church, we were met by incredible servants ready to bless anyone and everyone God would bring to us! In the words of the Sebastopol Fire Chief, “Sebastopol has been spared by the fire and is a SANCTUARY in this area!” SERIOUSLY, if we had not sensed God’s leading yet, we certainly did now!
Truth is, we had sensed God’s leading and we still do!
Jim and I had an immediate and sincere feeling flood our spirits that we were sent here for “SUCH A TIME AS THIS!” We asked God for a verse and we both felt him give us John 1:4-5 clearly;
“The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought life to everyone. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot extinguish it.” John 1:4-5
We have found ourselves in the middle of a raging physical fire in the last 32 hours! What puts out a physical fire? Firefighters who are armed with chemicals, water and fire extinguishers!
We have become acutely aware that God has called us here to be “spiritual firefighter’s!” We are to bring His light into the darkness. To shine His true light in the middle of grief, sorrow, devastation and hopelessness. To demonstrate through His love, that we are BEING HIS CHURCH by being His hands and feet to all those in need!
WE ARE SPIRITUAL FIREFIGHTERS CALLED TO EXTINGUISH DARKNESS!
We have been given The TRUE LIGHT of JESUS CHRIST friends! It is THE LIGHT that shines in the darkness and the darkness, no matter how severe, can NEVER EXTINGUISH IT!
So shine His Light in every situation you find yourselves in! He is faithful!
Just to give you all an update of our situation, this is debris from the fire, which was a small part of what was left on our front lawn. It is chilling to see the pages burnt from books, and realize that as I picked up what I thought was an ember, it was a fully burnt leaf from the tree!
When Jim and I pulled away from our house yesterday morning in the darkness, we fully expected to have nothing left when we returned. We gave God back the house He had so graciously given us here in Sonoma County. But God had different plans, and we are praising Him! He spared our house from the fire that was less than a quarter-mile away. We do not know why, but we completely give Him the glory and thank Him for it! May we use it for His glory and His glory alone to shine His light in the darkness in this community He has clearly placed us in!
Thank you all for your continued outpouring of love and prayers! They are needed and they are working. There is still MUCH work to be done and MUCH fruit to bear, but God is faithful and He will see us through!
Speak Truth Love