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When Life Goes Up in Smoke: a faith based story from the Story Powerline
Tuesday, August 20, 2019 by Glen A. Hinshaw

A fire is destroying a building. Bright orange and yellow flames glow through holes in all that is left of the lower structure. A great tower of flame mingled with black smoke rises above and fills the entire picture frame. I was a wildlife officer in Creede, Colorado in the mid-1970s. One day my two-way radio crackled, “Respond to a fire at Blue Creek Lodge.”

I rounded the curve at Wagonwheel Gap and the canyon below was already filled with thick black smoke. Flames shot into the sky for hundreds of feet as the lodge burned to the ground. The volunteer firemen had to stand back because the beauty shop supplies, including aerosol cans, exploded like hot ammunition. Containers of cooking oil in the lodge kitchen fueled the hot fire.

Diaster strikes

Bill and Theresa and their children watched as their home, business, and all their belongings were gone in a matter of minutes. They literally survived with only the clothes on their backs. They had left their home in Kansas, bought an old lodge and lived in it for less than a year. Only a few people knew them. They came to a home Bible study group at our house.

How not to help

As we watched the flames, I stood by Bill and assured him that “All things work together for good.” 

With tears rolling down his cheeks he said, “I don’t see anything good in that!” And he pointed to the fire and smoke.

ttempt at encouraging him was like asking a person screaming in pain after a horrific accident, “Are ya hurt?” This was not the time to preach to someone thinking he was going to refocus his attention to what I wanted. We can’t “fix” people.

The better way

I learned more from a man who drove down from Creede and not even knowing Bill said, “When the ashes cool and your insurance is settled, I’ll come down with my loader and dump truck and haul all this to the landfill.”

Since there was no bank in town, the Kentucky Belle Market immediately set up a special fund for people to donate money for the family. Meeting someone where they are within their reality is the real beginning of compassion and ministry.

By summer’s end the Creede and South Fork communities gathered around for an old- fashioned barn raising, but in this case a lodge raising. Two experienced contractors using new blueprints led dozens of volunteers to begin building a whole new lodge. Bill watched in amazement as youth leaders from a local Young Life Camp, young men and women, old men, and everybody in between began the process of rebuilding.

The community restores

I was standing next to Bill when a man came up and asked, “Who are all these people?”

In amazement Bill answered, “I have no idea. I don’t know any of them. They just showed up.”

Women from Creede and Southfork set up a long table with the finest mountain cuisine of their favorite delicious recipes. It took several months to finish this beautiful structure. Most of the work was contributed by volunteers.

Years later I asked Bill, “What is the greatest blessing you’ve ever had?”

His answer: “The day our lodge burned to the ground.”

Worth Repeating:  “. . .all things work together for good. . . for the purpose of transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ” (Romans 8:28, 29).

Food for thought:  People often quote verse 28 and leave out the rest – that the purpose of God’s kind of “good” is to change us into the image of Jesus. We often pray for God to rescue us from our circumstances, while all the time He intends to grow and mature us in our faith to become more like Christ. How do I respond to trouble?  Am I trusting in what God is doing in my life and the lives of those around me?

Today’s prayer: “Dear Lord, teach me more about Jesus today so that I can learn to handle difficulties the way He handled the same kinds of troubles. Amen.”

© Glen A. Hinshaw 2018


If you liked this story, you can find more of Glen A. Hinshaw’s stories in his books (Caregiver: My Tempestuous Journey; Echoes from the Mountains; Crusaders for Wildlife; The Adventures of a Rancher) at this link: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Glen+A.+Hinshaw&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

 

 

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