On August 2, 2011 he called me at work.

“The neighbor’s house caught on fire and ours is already filled with smoke.”

I couldn’t think.  What was he saying?

“Are you serious?” was the only response I could muster up.

“Yes.”  “Is everyone out?”  “Yes. We all got out with the dog and our computers.”

Panic set in.  There was nothing I could do but I had to be there.  I had to be with my husband.  I drove home as quickly as I could.  Smoke filled the sky and I could it see it all the way from my office.  Fire trucks from three towns came and filled the streets.  I couldn’t get through.  I parked my car three blocks back and ran the rest of the way.

Our home was destroyed that day with almost all of our things in it.  We were able to salvage our kitchen supplies but that was all.  It was an experience I had never hoped we would have, but at the same time it has been one of the best times of our lives.  The Lord has used this fire to tear us apart inside, mold and refine our inner workings, only to build us back up even stronger and wiser than we were before.

Over the past months I have seen God use this event as a literal example of His Word in more ways than one.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.

Genesis 50:20 (NLT)

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:2 (NIV)

Many people have told me they cannot imagine what it would be like to go through a fire.  I’ve said those same words in the past, after having seen other house burn – I can’t imagine going through that.

The truth is, it could have been worse.  We feel blessed that no one was hurt, we feel blessed that we have a community of friends who have taken such great care of us, and we feel blessed to have a God that gives us His Spirit, who is our Peace and Comfort in times of need.

How much more grief would this have caused if we were more attached to our things?  How much more painful would it have been to have our fingers ripped from the things we loved if we were holding on more tightly?  The Lord has graciously saved us from experiencing such hardship by teaching us to keep our thoughts on Him.  Stuff is just that – stuff.  And it will all soon pass away.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned through all of this is the more we fill our lives with things of this world, the harder it is to focus our mind on Christ.  Right now we’ve been given the gift of freedom from a lot of our stuff.  And while we plan to replace many things, we hope to do so with a mindset of what we need and not simply what we want.  Our home should be a place of peace and stillness, not weighed down by closets full of items we never use.  The opportunity to start over.  What a gift.

We hope to be moving back in this summer and there is so much more to come on our journey of seeking simplicity as we start rebuilding our lives.