Early one November morning in Ireland, Jake and I were visited by our neighbor landlord pounding on our kitchen door, yelling “Fire!”
Smoke was pouring out of our turf shed, five feet from the one and only door to our alley apartment.
As a trained fire engineer, our 36 y.o. landlord D. knew what to do and for 40 minutes we three (in our p.j.s) bucket-brigaged water from the kitchen sink into the shed.
There were no flames but a tremendous heat.
Heat that dissolved the plastic bags holding the turf/peat logs.
Blackened the pine wood frame of the shed.
Melted the electric lines.
Converted our lovely bicycles into bare, charred metal skeletons.
And, most incredible of all, the powerful heat melted the top and sides of the 300 gallon oil tank that was 1/3 full of diesel fuel!
Oh, my goodness, remembering gives me shivers.
After the danger was over, D. told us that the heat would have burst into a fireball, had we not doused it in time.
He told Jake not to feel too badly for putting the stove’s cold ashes in a plastic bucket. It was a mistake made by lots of Irish guys, D. said.
One hidden spark smolders, ignites, and houses burn down. Because of a little mistake.
And then D. told us his story.
During the night around 2 a.m., D. woke up with the strange thought, There is a fire out there.
He got out of bed and looked out his 2nd floor window, towards the Market Square of town.
He saw nothing, so he went back to sleep.
When he woke up at 7 a.m., he remembered that strange thought, so he went to his window to look out again. That time he saw smoke billowing above our roof and he ran to our door.
Our landlord D. was not what you’d call a religious guy, but later that day, he texted me: “God was with us.”
Indeed He was.
I am glad D. knew that it was God who woke him up and gave him that thought and enabled him to rescue us.
But I wonder, Does D. know that God is ALWAYS with us? Not just when there’s an obvious miracle and a good outcome?
God was – and is – with J. who suffered burns all over his little boy body years ago and has undergone myriads of painful surgeries.
God was – and is – with my dear friend P. when her car was hit by a truck and she had to be cut out and helicoptered to a hospital and is now facing months of recovery from the multiple injuries.
God was – and is – with missionary Andrew Brunson in a Turkish prison, even though it looks like he’s been forgotten.
Remember Jesus’ last words as he left earth for heaven? “I am with you always. . .”
I am super grateful that God saved us, of course! But even if there had been a terrible tragedy that day, I hope I would have known that God was with us.
Because “always” means always.