Fear: Fueled By Wildfires

2013-06-11 18.05.39

First view of Black Forest fire plumes. Photo taken by Jeanne Takenaka

Smoke plumes billowed into a summer blue sky last Tuesday afternoon. I had just stepped outside to put some chicken on the grill. The wind kept blowing out the flame. When I turned around and saw the thick gray smoke pouring upward, my stomach dropped and my hands began to shake. This was close. Very close. It turns out, the Black Forest fire (a few images here) began less than ten miles northeast our house, as the ash flies.

Fear of the unknowns about this blaze stirred up anxiety. It could blow our way, it could move away. Shifting winds could steer this monster of a fire in any direction. I watched the early reports about damage, the videos of the blaze already circulating on the media, trying to make sense of it . Seeking to find peace amid the fear, amid the grief for the families I knew were losing homes. And, as you probably know, there were hundreds.

Chinook heading home

Chinook helicopter flying home for the night. Photo taken by Jeanne Takenaka

Fear is a distracting place to operate from. I wasn’t even one of the thousands evacuated, yet I was caught by the unknowns, by the praying for friends and strangers awaiting word on whether or not their homes still stood.

The devastation this fire wrought is the worst in Colorado history. People lost more than “stuff,” than their homes. They lost memories, sentimental belongings, and their place of security. Some truly lost everything as a result of this fire.

Wildfires aren’t the only events in life that strip us of these most treasured things. Serious illness, the loss of a loved one, unexpected circumstances also burn away all we thought we knew. It’s easy to operate from a place of fear when something happens in our lives to change everything that is familiar.

I don’t have the answers for why these things happen. I don’t pretend to understand why God allows them into our lives. What I do know is that, in the midst of the most devastating life events, He is there with us. He offers us hope, hope that can douse the flames of despair, of disappointment, of loss.

Rainbow Castle Rock

Photo taken by Jeanne Takenaka

I’m learning fear and hope cannot dwell in my heart at the same time (see this great post by Dave Hamlin about fear and trusting God). When I toss fear out and make room for hope, my entire outlook on a difficult situation improves. When I put my eyes on Jesus, I can walk through difficult seasons with peace and grace. Sometimes, one  heart-wrenching step at a time, but I get through to the other side.

What about you? How have you worked through wild fires in your life? What gets you through them?

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13 thoughts on “Fear: Fueled By Wildfires

  1. Being caught up in that space of the unknown is so difficult. You were really close.. I can’t imagine how scary that is. I think you are so right, often we do find ourselves in those wildfire spaces… we have to cling to the hope we know is certain. Thanks for such a vivid reminder.

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    • Thanks for stopping by, Lisa! The fire was closer than I liked. Yes, we were close. Especially the first couple days. I had to remind myself a lot about keeping my eyes on Jesus. Whether the wild fire is big or small in our lives, clinging to hope helps us extinguish those flames of fear, don’t you think?

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  2. Well done Jeanne! We all have wildfires in our lives from time to time. But you are right, when we walk with Jesus, we can walk through the flames and noir be scorched. Is. 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you

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  3. Fires are so destructive and can undermine your sense of security faster than almost anything else. Was praying throughout this horrid time and will keep praying for everyone who lost so much. Thankful you all were safe.

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  4. Talking with others — like you — during wildfire times helps me. Hearing the wisdom of others (like you, like Dave Hamlin) helps me too. Remembering to pray, to rest in the peace of God helps me. Remembering who God is — the “all” of God. To lean into the prayers of others who are praying when I can’t … these are the things that get me through the wildfire times.

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    • I like that, Beth. Remembering the “all” of God. I need to do that too, especially during wildfire times. You are a stabilizing presence for me in those times too. Thank you, friend. Leaning into the prayers of others, definitely a strengthening for those difficult seasons.

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  5. Thanks for the great words Jeanne and yes fear is very distracting. I have had a hard time focusing on anything since the fire started. My husband keeps giving me tasks to do for the day and I just forget about them. We have adopted the song sung by Building 429, We Won’t Be Shaken, to help our family through this tragedy. The chorus says, “Whatever will come our way, through fire or pouring rain, we won’t be shaken”, music is a big part of our family and just really helps to lift our spirits and bring us closer to the Lord as we sing and dance together lifting His name up in song. Blessed by all the firefighters, friends, family and complete strangers that have come to our aid.

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    • Lara, you just made me cry. I am so glad God has given your family music and a specific song to strengthen you through this time. Sometimes lyrics put to music minister more deeply than words spoken, don’t they. And gratitude. What a great place to focus thoughts on during times of tragedy.

      I’m going to have to look that song up. Thank you for sharing it, and thank you so much for stopping by today.

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  6. Wonderful pictures, Jeanne….they really capture the heart of your story. From the fear, to the fight, to the rainbow and the hope and promise of God’s arms around us in our circumstances. He has been showing up lately in my Bible reading as my Shield; my Fortress and my Strength; the One who rules over Jacob and who is known to the ends of the earth as that One; my Refuge in times of trouble (Psalm 59). Special verses to me in that psalm are 59:9-10, which read: “O my Strength, I watch for You; You, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. God will go before me….” I love the idea that I can watch for Him….and that He has gone before me into all I prepare to step into, regardless of what kind of path that is. “And in His temple all cry, “Glory!””

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