This is a true story that just happened....
It's February 14th, 2009.
I had just completed a run around the neighborhood, and I'm still recuperating from the exertion. I'm getting ready for a bite to eat.
Suddenly I hear the scream of a siren. I glance out the window to see a fire engine whizzing past my house and up the hill. I can see a billow of smoke funneling down from above. And then I spot the smoke rising from some house on top of the hill. A neighbor's house is on fire, and one I had just run past not a half hour ago!
I pull on my shoes and dash up the hill to see the left side of the double wide trailer engulfed and smoke coming through the roof. I stand there as engines from three companies arrive. Before me, firefighters are shrugging on their gear- the pants, boots, coat, the oxygen tank, the facial masks. It's like something out of a movie. I'd never been this close to such action.
After two hours the scene quiets down. Everyone leaves. And all that is left is a burned house. I can't help but grieve in my heart for the family. I'm thankful they weren't home but sad for them all the same. They were the ones who had tons of decorations for Halloween and Christmas. They had a pool in the back and playground equipment for the son. They had lots of things.
The next day I venture back with my husband to the house and the family. Blackened, burned furniture fills the carport in front of their gutted home. A blue plastic tarp like a shroud covers the burned area. They invite us in to see the damage. I had never stepped inside a home ravaged by fire. It reeks of smoke and melted plastic. The entire house has suffered damage of some sort. They show me where they think the fire started - probably electrical - and the grandfather is highly upset. The grandmother is dazed. The son is trying to take it all in stride. But the living room and kitchen are gone. The ceiling and walls are either burned away, black, or bare. There are holes in the bedrooms where the firefighters had checked for fire creeping inside the wall and ceiling. The young guy shows me his son's room - his toys are mostly okay, but holes are in the ceiling and his bedspread is covered in black ash. The guy then shows his room and a huge computer set up with a 32 wide flat screen TV. He thinks it's okay, but I can clearly see the ash on it and likely water damage. He' s hopeful. I'm not so sure.
I arrive back to my own home, humbled by what I have seen. I take stock as I look about at my possessions. Like that home, I could step out one day and return to a home gutted by fire. What are my possessions then? Will it matter what I have gathered here on earth? After what I have seen, I can truly consider the meaning of the scripture (Matthew 6: 19-21) "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, were thieves break in and steal - but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
It's easy to get into possessions. We are a possession-driven society. But after what I saw this weekend, I must strive to for those eternal treasures. The ones that will never burn up in a fire. The treasures God is keeping safe for me and that I can enjoy when I get to heaven. Giving. Healing. Praying. Believing. Having faith. The fruits of the Spirit. The "things" that really matter in life.