Yesterday we received word that our new home in the Black Forest section of Colorado Springs is still standing. We rejoice, but we also grieve—more than five hundred surrounding homes burned to the ground in the worst fire in Colorado history.
In July my family and I will move from Alaska to Colorado Springs. We’ll be joining a community in ashes, a community facing the tasks of healing and rebuilding. Remarkably, we’ll feel right at home.
Misty and I have five children. They have buried friends who died in fires.
Allie was ten when she died. She used to wait for the school bus in front of her family’s cabin, where she would smile and wave as I drove past her on my way to work each morning. Then one morning I rounded the corner and gasped—Allie’s cabin was engulfed in flames. She and her parents were inside. Today they are buried where the cabin once stood.
A few years ago, I took the below photo of my son, Therron, and his best buddy, Elijah. They were laughing and celebrating Kindergarten promotion together. A few days later, Elijah died in a cabin fire.
My daughter, Ashelyn, and her best friend, Jasmine, use to spend countless hours dressing up like cat princesses. Then one night Jasmine died in a cabin fire.
Last summer, my oldest son was working at the family-owned lodge around the corner from our house. Early one morning I woke to the smell of acrid smoke and ran outside to see the lodge ablaze. Everyone escaped. But the lodge was a total loss.
Something is twisted and broken in a world where six year old children serve as pallbearers and five hundred families lose their homes in a single forest fire.
Where is God? Where is God when children die and houses burn?
He is there. In the flames. His right hand upholding, his arms surrounding, his mercy reigning, and his voice calling—calling us by name.
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Their earthly bodies are gone, but Allie, Elijah, Jasmine, and countless others who died in fires are not gone. Their lives are everlasting. Their stories are everlasting. For God, the Author, reaches out his hand and transforms the twisted flame of destruction into a refining fire of sanctification.
God is crafting the everlasting life stories of Allie, Elijah, Jasmine, and all the others. He is crafting the everlasting story of your life—and that story is a masterpiece.
Tragic fire may be part of your story. A devastated home, a lost friend, a destroyed family business—refining fires. Temporary.
What is today twisted and broken will one day be mended and healed. The day is coming when there will be no more fires, no more sorrow, no more death. The day is coming when the sovereign God of the Universe will proclaim, “Behold, I am making all things new!” The day is coming when masterpieces will rise from the ashes.