Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Wildfire That Changed Me

At 1:00 AM on Sunday, October 26th, 2003, I noticed a small flashlight near a water tower outside my bedroom window.  I woke up my wife to tell her that some teenagers must be throwing a party on the mountain near our home.  She was stunned.  "Look over there", she said.  The entire mountain was glowing, yet I only noticed a tiny flicker of light coming from one of the firefighters  busy setting up a perimeter just several blocks away.

"Wake up the kids", my wife shouted, "and check on the neighbors".  The winds were howling and fireballs were hurling in our direction.  We got out quickly without even closing all the windows.  The fire started near my favorite hiking location, "the Devil's Punchbowl" and spread ferociously.  I snuck back into my community with my brother-in-law  the next morning.  Thick black smoke hid my home from view.  I could see the steel beams of my next-door-neighbors home, one of the first to vanish during the night.  I was certain that my home, a two story cedar frame, situated at the top of the canyon, was gone.

We headed back to our church.  There weren't too many people there, many had evacuated.  My prayers were of thanks.  "Thank you, God, for protecting my family.  My home is gone but we are alive.  Please bless our firefighters and protect them.  Please hear the prayers of those crying out to you and comfort them."

When I exited the church, I checked my voice mail.  "Mike, it's your neighbor Debbie.  Todd used his badge to get back on our street.  Peggie's home is destroyed.  Yours is okay."  It was not until I returned home that I learned of God's protection.  The fire was on all four sides of my home, yet it was untouched.  According to Todd, the railroad ties all around my home kept re-igniting.  Todd strung together our garden hoses and kept putting out the spot fires.  Many homes were lost after the initial firestorm due to spot fires that sprung up hours or even days later.  The firefighters had to pull out to concentrate on the front lines which extended all the way to the coast.

An inner peace permeated every cell in my body as I looked at my home.  At that moment, I knew that God had some kind of special plan for me, that I was allowed to stay here in my hometown to be a part of His plan.  I promised God that whatever He wanted of me, I would do it.  There will be much more about this in "God's Black Sheep Squadron."  Even though bad things happen, I learned that good can come out of it.  This single event changed the course of my life forever.  We can learn from difficult situations.  Our experiences can make us better.  In the end, it is always good that wins.  This is God's promise to His people.  Invite Him into your heart and you will receive eternal life.

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