Fire, Ashes, and the Phoenix
My heart is filled with pain as I hear the news of the fire at our friends’ barn overnight. Nothing remains but ashes. Three fire departments fought the flames for hours, but the heat was so intense that their boat, two tractors, their truck, tools, and equipment melted to the ground. His fishing gear and hunting equipment are now gone. The storage areas of the barn contained memories and items belonging to their grown daughters, all reduced to blackened char. This was a building that used to be their original home, built by family members with their sweat and their love. It was their barn now, since they currently live in a newer nouse, only 10 feet away. That newer home was saved, their lives were spared, but their memories are reduced to smoke.
Ashes and the Phoenix
All that’s left of much of our friends’ hard work and barn is ashes. But what could arise from the rubble? The ancient legends of the Phoenix. come to mind.
Ancient legend paints a picture of a magical bird, radiant and shimmering, which lives for several hundred years before it dies by bursting into flames. It is then reborn from the ashes, to start a new, long life. So powerful is the symbolism that it is a motif and image that is still used commonly today in popular culture and folklore.
The mythical phoenix has been incorporated into many religions, signifying eternal life, destruction, creation and fresh beginnings.
Due to the themes of death and resurrection, it was an adopted symbol in early Christianity, as an analogy of Christ’s death and three days later his resurrection. The image became a popular symbol on early Christian tombstones.
Treasure in the Mess
For our friends, we pray for their strength to get through all the grief of losing so much. We pray for them as they sift through the piles of rubble, that they may find some hope. There might be a treasure in the mire of the mess!
Back in 2012, Colorado experienced the Highpark Fire in Glacier View, where my brother had built his dream home. He and his wife had to evacuate and live with us as the fire raged around his beautiful house overlooking the Mummy Range of the Rocky Mountains. As days went into weeks, he awaited word about the outcome of the fire’s ravaging destruction. Finally the fire crews allowed the residents to return to the area. It looked as if a bomb had exploded in Glacier View. Every thing was reduced to blackened soot. Trees had no tops to them. Only darkened stumps remained. No wildlife wandered the area, and almost every home around my brother’s house had burnt to the ground. Only foundations remained. But, to my brother’s relief, his house was still standing!
As he began his own cleanup within his sooty house, he watched the clean-up crews at his neighbors’ house behind him. They sifted meticulously each inch of ash to find anything that could be retrieved for the owners. They wanted to give those grieving people some hope. As he continued to watch, one of the crew lifted something up in the air and yelled, “Hooray!” It was a picture, a beloved memory no doubt, that arose from the rubble! A true treasure!
Hope Arising from the Ashes
Losses are very hard to recover from, whether it is a treasured barn tumbled by fire, the loss of a job, saying good-bye to a relationship, or grieving the death of a love one. Hope seems distant, and in those moments of grief we can’t see beyond the smoky ashes. But look up! It’s clear above the smoke, and fresh air can be found. It’s there that we know that hope exists, because Christ’s promises are true: The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
“So we don’t focus on the troubles we see right now; instead we look forward to what we don’t see yet. For the troubles we see now are temporary, but the joys to come will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:18
We grieve with HOPE, because we know the end of the story! With Easter coming very soon, we know the hope that our risen Savior can give us. “In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again…Because we know God raised the Lord back to life. And just as he raised Jesus, he will also raise us back to life and will bring us into his presence together.” 2 Corinthians 4: 9 & 14
Surrounding you with my prayers for hope…may you rise above those ashes to fresh air,