Through the Fire: A Personal Perspective on the Impact of Waldo Canyon Fire

 Like thousands of others who call the west side foothills of Colorado Springs, CO, “home”, I wait today to learn the condition of that home.  Displaced since our Waldo Canyon Fire evacuation in a frenzy of thick, black billowing smoke and threatening flames pouring down a nearby ridge like lava from a volcano, I remain transfixed with neighbors and friends in a shroud of uncertainty.   Thousands of evacuees wait in Red Cross shelters, some in hotel rooms, countless others in homes of kind friends or family.  Exhausted and overwhelmed, we hold our breath, we fight back tears and we wait even as fire continues to savagely lap up the world around us.

Sleepless giants posing as television crews, radio announcers, internet media and the ever-present rumor mill gush information…and mis-information…with the force of water from fire hoses.  Images of burning homes, hovering clouds of smoke, fleeing wildlife, charred forests and weeping families sear our minds.  Headlines scream of despair, inflaming our worst fears and incinerating our hopes. 

In times like this many sense a call to pray.  Perhaps months have passed since they looked heavenward not because of any ill-will toward God but simply because life keeps us busy.    We lost track of spiritual hunger as we pursue other appetites.   We lost perspective.   We lost our sense of gratitude.  Yet, in a moment of clarity we stop to look around us at precious loved ones and we thank God we are alive and safe.

If we are blessed with even greater clarity we realize more than anything, what we lost is our sense of eternity.   If I asked anyone on the streets of Colorado Springs today, “Do you believe in eternity?” most would reply in the affirmative.  Of course, we believe in eternity.  But somewhere between the Alpha & Omega we stopped living like we believe.  We traverse day by day as if life was an all-you-can-consume buffet.  We belly up to life’s goodie bar hoping for things of this world to fill us.  And when our feast goes up in flames we easily feel cheated, maybe even question the Goodness of the One who provided the banquet in the first place, blaming Him when our meal is charred.

How senseless to live like I’m in control then blame God when tragedy strikes.  I’m NOT in control.  The harder I chase after earthly pleasures and possessions, the less they satisfy.  The faster I pursue my dreams the quicker they vanish before my eyes.  The more I strive for perfect relationships, the lonelier I become.  The more I demand control, the less I realize it. 

In a hasty evacuation, as I raced through my home gathering last-minute possessions to throw in my car, The phrase echoed through my mind, “You can’t take it with you.”  Take it with me whereInto eternity.

Today as I wait on news of my home, my community, even my future I rest  convinced that God wants me to hold tightly to an eternal perspective.  Those things easily consumed by fire were never intended to give me life.  Loss I may face before sundown, pain I may experience cannot rob me of peace.  In God’s grace he uses loss and pain to shape me into someone He would delight to spend eternity with.  Not yet ready for eternity, in His mercy He continues to transform me even through the fire.   Therein lies my hope today and every day.

“We do not lose heart! Our troubles are slight and short-lived and their outcome is an eternal glory which outweighs them by far.  Meanwhile our eyes are fixed not on the things that are seen but on things unseen, for that which is seen passes away.  What is unseen is eternal. 

For we know that if this earthly frame that houses us today should be demolished, we possess a building which God has provided—a house not made by human hands, eternal and in heaven…Therefore, we never cease to be confident.”  II Corinthians 4:17-18, 5:1 & 6

My hope is not based in things of this world.  I possess Joy—not an emotional high, but real peace prevailing even in the midst of uncertainty, devastation and ruin–because I am intimately familiar with the One unseen.  With eternity in mind I realize that world news headlines, even those involving me personally are not the main story.  The Greater Story is my Sovereign God, the One I will Live with eternally.

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11 responses to “Through the Fire: A Personal Perspective on the Impact of Waldo Canyon Fire

  1. “But somewhere between the Alpha & Omega we stopped living like we believe.” Powerful statement.

    Devastating tragedy burns away the inconsequential, exposing the bedrock of my faith—who God says He is. The mourning winds driving my fiery emotions fluctuate between searing and frozen. As the ashes of this life’s dreams swirl and fall around me, I choose to cry out to Adonai Tsoovah, The Lord My Salvation, (Psalm 38:22, NIV). My cries to Him reveal my trust, “Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.” Through tears I praise. “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NASB)

  2. I’m so sorry to read you are among the evacuees of this devastation, Di. My family & I are praying for you and yours. Please let us know if there’s anything we can do. This is a beautiful expression of faith. Hold tight, my sister.

  3. This made me cry thinking about all you’ve been through the past couple of weeks. You lost your sweet little dog and now this. I’m thinking about conversations we’ve had about holding loosely to things of this world. What makes you such an awesome mentor to me is that you really walk your talk and you never pretend to have it all figured out. You bleed and cry just like I do. You continue to set such a Godly example for me and I’m so grateful

  4. Thanking God you are safe. Asking him to hold you as you wait. Wait–there’s that word again. Seems to be your life theme lately. Love the idea of God transforming us into people he will delight to spend eternity with. Glad to be spending this side of eternity (and the next) with you.

  5. Much love and many prayers, Di. Thank you for writing something beautiful, especially when juxtaposed against the destruction of your present situation. I’m glad you are finding “beauty from ashes:” peace and eternal truths.

  6. where is god in the woldo canyon fire?

  7. BJ Bauer-Nipper

    Jason, God is in the community coming together. Strangers who usually pass each other on the streets are stopping and talking to one another. God is all around, even in tragedy. He promises us to help us through our tragedies, not to keep us from them.

  8. Thought provoking article. Here’s hoping our prayers from Canada reach you folks in Colorado.

  9. Daniel Wheeler

    I think you get a good sense that control is an illusion when fire comes racing down a moutain to destroy everything you’ve given your life to build. I’m not fond of suffering but sometimes it seems to serve as a wakeup call that we arent in charge. Only a fool would think he is. Thanks for wrting about this.

  10. Julie Crandall

    Thank you for this insight. Yes, I too, have wrestled with God on this issue over the years. Death, Disease, Addiction, Disappointment…can all lead down the path of “Where was God…”

    I know that it can sound hollow when christians say, “Well God’s ways are not our own.” But in my personal experience, that has changed from a ‘christianeeze’ phrase to reality by following that statement up with a couple questions of my own… “Do I really WANT a God I can fully understand? Do I want a God that I can comprehend?” My answer is always ‘no’ because that would put me on the same level as Him… and the older I get the more I realize I DO NOT have the intelligence and qualifications for that job… unlike my teenage self would have said!

    The Waldo Canyon fires were devastating and life-changing for many. But God did not change from before the fire to after. He is still a loving Father and Comforter to those in need. Throughout the trials of my own life, I have found that the ‘why’ became less and less important and the ‘how’ of His ever-present help and love became focal instead.

    He is still standing ready to provide shelter under His wings and although we cannot always grasp the ‘why’ of events, we can always trust in His goodness and love, even though His ways ARE not our own.

    Thanks Di, for allowing an honest dialogue about our normal reaction to tragedy!

  11. “But somewhere between the Alpha & Omega we stopped living like we believe.” Powerful statement.
    Reminds me of a dear pastor friend of mine who once stated “Most Christians see their lives as a bed with the foot board being their day of accepting Christ and the headboard being the day they enter heaven – in between lays a sagging mattress.” I tend to believe that is changing as my friend would hope and want it to.

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