Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thirty Minutes to Ruin

I’d been watching the progress of the building each week. It stood across the field from our church, so watching the huge home being built became a Sunday morning distraction as I pulled into the parking lot. Last Sunday I noticed there was a large orange tarp draped over the north side. They’re probably working on the exterior finishing, I thought, as I entered the church to prepare for my Sunday school class.

There’s a little boy who lives across the other field. He’s a watcher too. As soon as he sees a vehicle arrive at the church he knows the doors will be open and over he runs. When he arrived this past Sunday, he had a question.

“Where’s all that smoke coming from?”

“Smoke?” I said.

“Yeah, over there.” Nick pointed in the direction of the newly constructed home.

I looked out the window, then ran to the phone to dial 9-1-1. The smoke was thick and black and the flames were already shooting up on the north side. By the time the fire trucks arrived all they could do was stop the traffic to prevent anyone from getting too close. It took only thirty minutes for that house to become a raging ball of fire – thirty minutes to go from a solid permanent-looking construction, to a charred ruin.

As I watched it happen I was reminded that nothing in this world is permanent. Even those things that look like they will last forever are destined to crumble. But there is something that will stand forever. The Psalmist, David, said it – “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Ps.33:11).
So did the prophet Isaiah – “The grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of our God stands forever” (Is.40:7).

I remember as a young girl standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking Lake Superior. I was so overwhelmed with the raw power of that landscape’s beauty that I thought to myself, this will last forever. But even that will pass away. Jesus himself said it – “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

What then should we cling to? Homes that can burn in thirty minutes? Jobs that can disappear overnight? Finances that can vanish like the wind? Friends that can betray us in a breath?

The answer is obvious. The only one to cling to is Christ. They call Him the rock for a reason.

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