|With Jesus as Lord, we share His Love|
The Ultimate Weapon
"Whose life doesn't perpetually feel like going around a curve in which one can't see what's coming?" I wrote in the train and train track-related August 2013 devotional, having no idea what was around the curve of the year between August and December for our family.
In the 4:00 a.m. deep cold and dark of December 18, I woke to lights flashing on the bedroom wall. Suddenly wide awake, I ran to the source, two police cars in our driveway, up by the house. Heart racing and still not knowing why they were there, I shouted my husband and sons awake and we raced downstairs. On the way out, Noah glanced out his window and yelled, "It's the little barn!" When we got to the kitchen door we saw it—our little barn, the one nearest the house, totally engulfed in flames. My first thought was the cat, Cleo, who loved to prowl after mice and sleep there. What a horrible fate! Soon the volunteer fire departments began arriving, first Mellott's, then Attica's. My husband, sons, and I stood on the house porch watching in shock and horror, helpless spectators, as those well-trained, hardworking volunteers raced to contain the huge fire. A barn made of 100+ year-old wood and filled with all sorts of gas-powered equipment—two motorcycles, a tiller, a riding mower, and several push mowers—burns hot and hard so those firemen had their work cut out for them. But they got the job done! Praise God, they got the job done! (Interestingly, one of those volunteer firemen was the same young man who supplied me with information about trains for that August devotional! Ours was his first fire with the department. We sit in church every Sunday with him and his dad, both of whom were helping to fight our fire. Such a comfort to have them here!)
Earlier this year, through reading the stories of the kings Hezekiah and Jehoshaphat in the daily entries in my One Year Bible, I learned that praise is the appropriate first response to any trouble. Hezekiah, when faced with war, prayed:
O Lord, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. (2 Kings 19:15)
And Jehoshaphat, when faced with multiple armies declaring war and marching on his nation prayed:
O Lord, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you! (2 Chronicles 20: 6)
God delivered both of those kings and their people from their enemies. Praise is not only the appropriate first response, it is the ultimate weapon! And so, below, intertwined with the words of Psalm 145: 1 - 8, is my response to our barn fire:
I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever.
Praise God it wasn't the house! Praise God it wasn't the house where we were all sleeping! Praise God it wasn't the house!
I will praise you every day; yes I will praise you forever.
Praise God for two of the best volunteer fire departments—Mellott and Attica—any rural homeowner could have when their barn catches fire in the middle of the night!
Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness.
Praise God for the neighbor who lives at least two miles away who spotted and reported it, someone we don't even know!
Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.
Praise God there was no loss of life and no one was hurt—family or firefighter—in spite of the fire and a downed live power line!
I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles.
Praise God the cat got out! Yes, even the cat, smelling of smoke and scared out of his wits, got out!
Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness.
Praise God there was no wind when the fire was blazing at its greatest.
Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
Praise God that the Attica VFD returned quickly that evening when the wind picked up and stirred the fire back up to flame. Praise God they stayed until they were sure it was out!
they will sing with joy about your righteousness.
Praise God for the friends and family who expressed their love and concern for us through Facebook, phone calls, texts, and in person.
The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
Praise God, praise God, praise God!
Would this have been my natural response if I hadn't opened myself up to the Spirit's teaching through the Word on a regular basis? I seriously doubt it! God is so good to teach us and prepare us! Jesus promised, [When] He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come (John 16:13). Did the Spirit tell me that we would have a barn fire? No, I don't think that's what this verse means. But did He guide me into the universal truth that praise is the first and most appropriate and powerful response to trouble? Yes, yes He did! And as a result, praise for all that was not lost flowed naturally from me in that terrible circumstance.
[B]ut whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life, Jesus said to the woman at the well. And to you and me.
None of us can know what lies ahead for us and/or our family around the curve of this New Year, 2014, but if we're regularly in the Word and in communication with God through prayer, we can be assured that we'll be prepared to respond to whatever that is—good or bad—in a way that not only brings glory to God, but also brings peace of mind and heart to ourselves. Who wouldn't want that?