Fire!


The chicken house was on fire! A gusting wind drove the flames against the little nearby farmhouse. A young man stood in the front yard of his home, two empty buckets hanging from his limp hands. His shoulders sagged and sweat soaked his clothing, dripped from his black hair, and rolled down his face. Exhausted, his breathing ragged, he gasped, "It's no use, Louise. I can't fight it."

His wife, barely out of her teens, stood near him, two small children crying and clutching the hem of her skirt. She stood protecting her babies while watching her husband rush back and forth from the dug well to their endangered home... useless trips . . . Fighting a battle he couldn't win. The water thrown on the front of the blistering house hissed into steam before it hardly left the buckets. "You'd better get the baby," the discouraged man said. "The house is going to burn."

Disengaging herself from the toddlers' grip, the frightened woman tore out around the house toward the back door. How could she forget the baby? Fear over the fire must have addled her. The temperature inside the house, an inferno, shocked her. Her newborn child lay on its face in the crib, wails covered by the roar of the wind and the raging fire.

Snatching up the infant, the woman rushed back outside to her husband and her little ones. Her heart ached with despair. What would they do without their home? These were depression years. There was no money, nowhere to go, except to crowd in with her parents who still had four children at home in a two bedroom house. This house they now lived in belonged to her husband's widowed mother.

"If only the wind would stop," her husband said. "Maybe, then I'd have a chance." But the wind wasn't letting up. It's force drove the flames horizontally and mercilessly against the front of their little home. Paint oozed from the singed siding.

"Stop the wind, God!" Frank heard his wife yell. He looked up, startled. She stood, the baby tucked under one arm and the arms of the two little ones wrapped around her knees. Her other arm pointed straight toward the burning chicken house. Strong and erect, she placed her confidence in a God who had never failed them yet. Hadnít He brought their little family through these destitute years?

"Do we really serve a God who can do that?" Frank wondered. He didn't wonder long. No sooner had the words left his wife's lips than the wind ceased, changed directions and blew the opposite way, the force strong enough to shoot the flames horizontally across the ground, never veering right nor left.

The wind didn't let up until the chicken house was in ashes. During that time, not once again did it blow toward the farm house, but kept its reversed direction, sweeping the hazardous flames away from the humble little home.

I was that baby tucked under my mother's arms while she called on a God who had already proved himself. He didnít fail her, nor has he ever failed me. I don't always stand erect and certain, like my mother stood that long ago day. Sometimes I fall on my face in fear as the searing heat of affliction surrounds me, crying as I did when an infant in my crib. God does not forget me. As my mother ran to my aid, He hears and runs to rescue me from the fiery heat of tribulation. In the fourth chapter of Saint Mark, the fearful disciples during the storm at sea called on the Master. He heard them. At His command, the wind ceased. God sees beyond our fears and honors our infant cry of faith.

I am not always secure in my prayers, as my mother that day. A few years ago, I experienced the most severe trial of my life. Mistakenly thinking God had failed me, flames of doubt blew my way, threatening to incinerate my faith. But I kept praying. I cried and clutched the hem of my Father's garment as the woman with the issue of blood in Mark Four. He heard, picked me up, held me close, comforted and healed.

Sometimes, like my father, I fail while trying to douse fires of affliction on my own. Sometimes, like him, when the solution comes, I ask amazed, "Do we really serve a God who can do that?" And the answer is always yes. He can, He will, and He does. In spite of numerous trials in the sixty years of my life, my spiritual house stands, unbeaten by flames of adversity, merciless tongues of destruction doused by prayer . . . Prayer offered up from a deep well of trust inherited from my praying mother.

God's Word assures, in Jeremiah 33:3 KJV, "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." Like my mother, I have called. Like His Word promises, God has answered. And like my father, I stand amazed.

Nancy Merical, nmerical@citynet.net mother of four and grandmother of ten, lives with her husband Jack in Ripley, West Virginia. A HOLY GHOSTwriter, Nancy has written inspirational materials for multiple markets for over twelve years. Lillenas markets her children's drama book, Just for Kids. Her works can be found in Guideposts Prayers for Every Need : Comfort and Celebration and Tyndale's Devotions for Girls. Nancy's newspaper column, "Down Life's Path", can be read on her web site each week at http://www.angelfire.com/wv2/mericalwriter

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