Tag Archives: “unafraid and thankful”

A Strange Fire–A Strange Gratitude

What a week it’s been with fires raging all around us!

The first night, Sunday, I had gone to bed early, and had barely gone to sleep when there was a loud crack and I looked outside to see a transformer blow on the street below us. It looked like someone had set off fireworks. Shortly my husband came in and told me there were three firetrucks in front of our house–a tree was on fire next door. They put it out and left, and crews with big lights fixed the transformer below us.

The next morning we were watching TV coverage of the fires around us, mainly in Ventura then. Suddenly I realized how fortunate we were that our neighbors had been vigilant and called on the fire in their tree! In that wind We could have lost our whole neighborhood if they had been asleep or gone. Our houses are so situated that we couldn’t see it from our house. We thought the transformer had started it.

I texted my new neighbor and told her how grateful I was that they had been on top of it, and she told me a tree from the neighbor’s yard below them had fallen on power lines and they had heard something strange. So her husband got up and looked and saw one of their trees was on fire, and she called 911. She was grateful too that they had seen it and for the efficiency of the firefighters and power company.

We went to bed on Monday night with the fire officials predicting that the flames of the Rye Fire were likely to be licking at our city by morning! But during the night the wind shifted and it went down the 405 freeway instead. It left an odd sort of gratitude. Grateful we were spared but feeling bad for others in its new path. both sides of the freeway were burning and thousands were stranded in their cars from the closure.

We still weren’t out of danger on Tuesday. That night we slept with the phone close by in case we were notified to evacuate. The wind was supposed to be gusting to 80 mph. That leg went west and didn’t touch us either. Again we felt strange: grateful, but sad for the town where it was headed. We prayed that God would calm the wind and He did. It had been roaring Sunday night, and they were supposed to pick up  Monday and Tuesday nights again, but instead went relatively calm when they were predicting gusts of 80 mph. Thanks to those of you praying with us. Its hard to imagine that it could have been worse, since they are still burning, but it could have. If the winds had stayed that high there might not have been a place in Southern California that wasn’t touched by fire.

We live with fires every year–we have fire season here–but I don’t remember one like this before. The winds have never been this strong and crazy. There is often some wind with a fire, but not like this with no prior rain. It was scary. I didn’t realize how wind all by itself could start fires. I don’t think we’ve lost this many homes before either. We were so glad nobody had died, but now today I’ve heard there was one death.

That is still remarkably low, and we want to give great thanks to the firefighters who have been on since they started. My friend said this morning she hadn’t seen her husband since Monday. (But she knows he’s ok because he keeps in touch.)

It is a strange gratitude to be thankful when other people lost everything. It’s hard to even imagine what that would be like, so disorienting. I know God can and does bring good out of anything, if we just stay close and don’t turn against Him. It’s hard not to when it seems He didn’t protect you, but He told us evil will be given more and more power. Now is the time to make that relationship real so He has the right to protect you–you’re His kid. Then if He doesn’t, it’s because He knows He can trust you to stay close and let Him work for you.



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Unafraid and Thankful

I doubt that very many of us will give thanks this Thanksgiving for our suffering. It is so counter-intuitive. And yet our willingness to suffer for God is such a gift. I suppose it is mostly because our arch-enemy said we would never do it. He loves to ask God to test us. I don’t think Satan thought we were capable of suffering and staying with God. By now he must know we are capable, but he knows as humans we fight against it and struggle with understanding it. It is foreign to our creation. We were made to run on love, and to live in beauty and goodness and peace.

Suffering is probably the one thing that really sets us apart for God. Because we would never naturally do it unless we were horrendously abused from childhood. Even then sometimes we will fight against it. But to choose suffering for a greater good, a huge cause, or the good of someone else is what God did; and I think that is what it means to “fill up the sufferings of Christ”–not because God wants us to suffer–but our willingness shows an attitude like His. He hates suffering more than we do! But Jesus chose to suffer to set the universe free–above suffering forever.

When God created freedom, the possibility of suffering was an option, and when it became a reality, They chose suffering rather than power as Their way of dealing with it. It wasn’t just Jesus who suffered–They all went through his suffering–it was probably worse for Abba and Ruach. They believed that They should experience the consequences of creating the possibility to suffer.  They could have picked up Their power and squashed any rebellion. But They knew the only right thing to do was taking responsibility for creating a world (a universe) where something could go wrong.

Suffering shows character, anybody can get angry and retaliate, that’s natural to broken beings. But suffering gracefully makes us stand out as definitely His–when we do it willingly, unafraid of anything as long as They are with us.

Last week I wrote about my friend who just learned he has brain cancer, and is facing death; his faith and attitude are amazing. Last Thursday I saw my friend,  who has suffered terribly with cancer–more than I can even imagine suffering. She was minutes away from death a year ago, and also last month, but rallied again. She has had a stroke, lost her sight, most of her hearing, and her ability to eat and taste, but her love and faith and strength of spirit is even stronger than it was before. And she was already full of them! Watching her family cope with it has been an education and a marvel as well. She told me every day she wakes up with excitement for what God will do that day because He hasn’t let Satan kill her. She said every day she is getting better!

What an idea! Unafraid of anything that comes because we know God and know They are with us! It makes us truly “Bulletproof” (I love the song by Citizen Way.) And it proves that relationship with God is not only possible, but the only thing that really matters! I don’t want to suffer (of course), but I want that intimacy with Them! And when I look back at my life, the suffering has been worth it. Worth what? Getting closer to Them. Knowing God. Experiencing Their incredibly sweet unlove and friendship.

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