It was just a typical end of day chat with one of my main team members. While on the phone, walking around talking, I heard a loud noise. Turning to look in the direction from whence it came, I suddenly realized I was staring at flames.
The house behind mine was ablaze and the canopy of trees that surrounded my backyard was connected to those very trees that loomed above that house. Should they too catch fire, my home and my neighbors, which shared that lovely collection of foliage, would likely be engulfed in flames soon as well.
What happened next I can’t explain, but for some reason, it was a natural reaction. The memory of my father hosing down the roof of our house when I was a very young child during a similar event popped into my mind, and I simply recreated that scene.
Running out to the deck, I dug for my garden hose and began spraying what trees and shrubs I could that stood between me and the flames behind me. Once the trees above caught fire, there would be nothing I could do. Especially once they fell and landed on the roof of my house. However, for some reason, I just kept at it. Manipulating the hose with one hand, and calling 911 with the other, I went into what action I could.
Oddly, my dog, who had exited out the kitchen door ran straight towards the flames. He had a buddy in that house, Franklin, and I guess his dog instincts kicked into gear. Spraying, shouting back and forth with neighbors, and screaming at my dog to come away from the flames at the top of the hill, I was once again grateful for the fence I had added to the treeline when he was but a puppy. It was still intact and holding my lab securely inside my yard. But if a tree caught fire and fell, trapping him, there was nothing I could do about him either.
It was then that I noticed the gas cans sitting at the edge of my neighbor’s patio, near their shrubs that backed up to the same potential fiery hill. They were on the other side of my fence and beyond my reach. Once the homeowner emerged, I yelled to her and the cans were removed avoiding any incoming or rogue flames.
At some point in that mix, the firefighters arrived. And within moments, the flames were gone. Their reaction was tight, quiet, and effective. I was once again amazed by the country I live in. So organized. Talented. Able. And I was eternally grateful to be a citizen right here in the good ole U S of A. My taxes at work to be sure.
Putting  down the silly hose that could not have saved me, I noticed my neighbors to my right were sitting on their patio watching the firemen work.
I, too, sat down finally on my deck and watched as the news helicopter above continued circling as it had for the past 15 minutes or so. Ironically, though I could not see anything through the trees, I found I could watch everything via Facebook, and live, from my deck. Such an odd era we live.
It was over. But sadly, for my neighbors, who had just finished remodeling that home, it was now just the beginning.
Once the firemen left, I got in the car, still barefoot as I had been through the entire ordeal, and drove around to their house. There they stood, staring at the destruction. By God’s grace neither they, nor Franklin, were home during the fiasco. It could have been a very different story. A fire is probably something that never had crossed their minds.
Life is like that. You think about the things that you fear might happen. You try to plan and figure in advance. But oddly, it’s what you never saw coming that hits you from behind. As much as we try to protect ourselves from pain or problems, you just have to realize that the reality is—you can’t. Once you find yourself standing in the rubble of what was once the life you planned, now very altered, you simply have to pick up the pieces, rebuild, and begin anew.
If you recognize that type of scenario in your life, if you know the pain of a personal destruction that you have faced or are facing, you must hear this—you are not the first, and you won’t be the last person to experience this moment. Most importantly, you will survive. You will come out on the other side. And you will be ok. Perhaps, you will even find it to be a much better life than the one you could have orchestrated or planned prior.
On this day, I wish you health, happiness and a home free of life’s flames. But should they come, and they most likely will, allow those around you who do come to your rescue to do their job. Listen, stay out of the way, accept their hugs, then pick up your hammer, and rebuild.
I’ve been there. I understand. And I, too, lived to tell.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Ps. 34:18 (NLT)
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And thanks!