The scene could be from the 6:00 o’clock evening news. We gaze in horror at the skeleton remains of a charred and ruined homestead. The chimney stands alone like a humbled, weary soldier against the grey of the mid-day sun. Columns and beams still smoldering as the stench of smoke and ash clings heavy in the air. And you think to yourself, “What could possibly remain after such a fire?” And then you see the faces of the ones sifting through the ash and rubble looking for what remains. Their faces are just a reflection of their hearts, tear streaked and dirty. The look of pain and shock written in the sooted creases and lines around their eyes and lips, as they pick and plunder. And you think again with pity, “What could remain in that crumpled mess of a broken house scattered in blackened pieces?”
Losing a home to devastation, either to wind, fire or water, is one agony I have never faced. I cannot imagine what that must be like. But, I do know what it means to walk through devastation that challenges you beyond belief and your faith. I know what it feels like to be standing in the middle of a storm and watching the wind blow and the water rise and wonder to yourself what would be left when it is all said and done. Mine and Eric’s house of thoughts, faith, mindset and ideals caught fire. And the uncontrollable waves of heat burned white hot as the flames licked at the very core of our being. So here we are today. We are the ones sifting through the ash and rubble, wondering to ourselves, “What remains?”
Thoughts, attitudes or paradigms of faith can only show their true value when tested with the fires of trial and tribulation. How can you truly trust the integrity of a thing if it first has not been tested or tried? Being refined by the fire is not an easy process but it is simple. Those core values that glow and pulse in the heart of the fierce and raging fire and sustain their substance, shape and composition are the only things that can be built with and upon. Yes, there are those things that shine brighter, made sturdier and purer after enduring the scorching of heat and stinging of cooling water. Patterns of thoughts or faith ideals that cannot endure the heat of the day deserve to become nothing more than ash and rubble. They are the terrible dross of my mind and emotion. In them is no substance that can be mistaken for or identified as faith. The Fire knows and the Fire reveals. I must allow these fantasies of thoughts and attitudes of bolstered wishes that resemble faith, to burn like wood, hay and stubble. They do not remain but become charred beyond recognition and burned beyond useful anymore. The Fire distinguishes and the Fire sets apart. This process of refinement has two very important components that work together like bees and pollen to make life sweet and stable. I cannot rush this process nor can this process ever stop. The fires of the day and life are continual; therefore, I must be relentless in my actions. I have to know what remains and choose to build with those values, patterns of thought and faith. And, I must also look at the things which do not remain and clear out the charcoaled tidbits or towering blackened beams of ideals, actions and attitudes that make my mind, soul and heart a wasteland of rubble and ash. The glory of today is to find those things that radiate brilliance and light after the fire and with them build all the while ridding myself of the weight of ash and rubble that only cause my heart, faith and mind to be complicated and weighed down. The house that is built on the rock may be simple and low but in the end all that really matters is what remains when the day is over, the fire has raged and all is said and done.