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 where? Into 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.