What should we learn when things are destroyed by fire?

By S. Michael Houdmann, Got Questions Ministries

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
(2 Peter 3:10, NIV)
I used to comment that one of the things I loved about living in Colorado Springs was the lack of potential for natural disasters. After devastating wildfires in 2012 (the Waldo Canyon fire) and in 2013 (the Black Forest Fire), I can no longer say that. Both fires destroyed over 300 homes and both fires took at least two lives.

While my home is safe, and while the office is safe, I know several families who have lost their homes. Close family members have been in the mandatory evacuation zones, so my wife and I have had the joy of opening our home to family members for several days with each fire. Thankfully, that is the most suffering I have had to endure!

The other day I was thinking, "If I had 5 minutes to evacuate my home, what would I take?" Surprisingly, there was nothing that popped into my mind that I absolutely could not live without. Of course I would grab our computers, some photos, some family heirlooms, and some other memory related items. I am sure I would greatly miss our home, many of the items in our home and the memories attached to them. But I found myself reasonably emotionally detached from the stuff I have collected over the years.

For me, the lesson I am learning from these fires is a powerful reminder that the things of this world are temporary. As 2 Peter 3:10 says, one day, this entire universe will be destroyed by fire. We won't be taking our stuff with us to the New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21-22), so we might as well start detaching ourselves from it.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal (or where fire burns), 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.
(Matthew 6:19-21, ESV)
For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come.
(Hebrews 13:14, NLT)
For followers of Christ, one day our works will be judged by fire (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). If our lives are about earthly possessions—"gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw"—much of it will be burned up. If our lives are more about saving "treasures in heaven" by using our time, resources, and possessions to minister to others, pointing people to Jesus Christ, far more of it will survive the smelting process.

Yesterday, when I was watching a home burn to the ground on television followed by and interview with the family that owned the home, I was struck by the father's attitude. He said something to the effect of, "Our home is gone along with most of our possessions. But, we have each other, and that is all that truly matters."

What he said is entirely true, in both physical/earthly and spiritual/eternal senses. Physically speaking, homes and possessions can be rebuilt and replaced. People cannot. Spiritually/eternally speaking, we cannot take our possessions with us. The only things we can take with us are people. So, rather than focusing on what is replaceable and temporary, let's focus on what is valuable and eternal. May these fires cleanse our minds and renew our focus on what is truly important.

With that said, in no sense am I minimizing the pain of losing a home. I have not experienced such a tragic loss, so I cannot fully understand or appreciate the feelings, emotions, and struggles involved. My main point is this: let us not grieve as the world grieves (1 Thessalonians 4:13). May the fires remind us that this world is not our home.

Image Source: Jonathan Corbet; Old Stage Road Fire 1; Creative Commons

TagsChristian-Life  | Hardships  | Personal-Life

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Published 6-14-13