Family photos are gently removed from broken frames… wet and burned. A few pictures are salvageable; many now papers of ash.
Less than 24 hours earlier, I stood at the end of my driveway witnessing a neighbor’s house engulfed in flames. Above the view of fire engines, a greedy fire licked the night sky: its appetite not satiated until the house became unlivable.
Family, friends, and neighbors gather the following day to begin the process of discovering what survived and what needs to be tossed. The most important survivors are the family members – safe and well, albeit shocked.
Accessing the damage is sobering. The fire touched some things to the point of complete loss while keeping in flawless condition housewares and books on either side. This power of light and heat feels like a mixing of days – evidence of normalcy combined with destruction and chaos.
The floor is one color: black. Although on occasion I see flecks of milky white tile within the blurred stamp of work boots. The family who lived in this home now move in and out of each room with eyes of disbelief. The Keurig is full of water and has a used K-Cup next to a mug dusted with white powder. The rafters are exposed; thick strands of attic flooring hang down like seaweed — as spongy as the floor.
One of the three children who lived in the house, a teenage boy, now packs his clothes in a cardboard box labeled with his name written with a Sharpie. He doesn’t see the box leave his room as many hands are helping load trailers and trucks. It isn’t until sometime later that the boy realizes his clothes are on the trailer. He needs clothing for the next day. I find myself in the trailer searching through boxes with him trying to find his name in a mountain of cardboard. He finds the box. A look of relief sets upon his face… like he has found something that belongs to him in a world where he suddenly feels less known… less at home.
I follow him back towards the house. I can’t help but notice the back of his neck is marked with dark fingerprints from rubbing his neck — a sign of a tired boy who has had his hands in an ash-ridden event wished upon no one.
As we approach the door to his house, he slows. The door is open, so I question the pause. That is until I see what this young man is doing. He is wiping his feet on the welcome mat.
My heart stills.
Despite appearances, this house is still his home. This space may feel different, but he moves forward beyond what he sees; he steps in child-like faith, trusting in what he knows even when faced with destruction and chaos.
“‘I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it’” (Luke 18:17).
The kingdom of God is both now and in the future. And in the now we often find ourselves looking at the destructiveness of the world rather than trusting the Lord’s welcome. We can become disheartened in the chaos or encouraged by the faithfulness of God’s presence in our past, present, and future.
How do I desire to enter today… each day? By pausing at the threshold of what I may not understand and trusting the One who understands me. The One who knows my name regardless of changing circumstances. The One who has prepared a place for me: Home.
Do we give the Lord the respect He deserves? Or do we fall into the habit of living in reaction to the messes rather than living into Jesus’ promises of hope, direction, and an eternal relationship?
The teenage boy carries a cardboard box bearing his name as he wipes his feet upon the welcome mat. His feelings nor his view alter his soul instinct to respect his home.
Recognize your true home… now and in the future… the kingdom of God. And be still long enough to allow God to go before you.
“God is our refuge and strength…” (Psalm 46:1).
SGLY, dear reader.
(Smile, God Loves You.)
Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian Author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier, Instagram:@tiffanysgly, and Twitter: @tiffanychartier.