In the Middle of the Ashes

by DanWolgemuth on February 6, 2024

The call flashed on an iPhone screen. A recognized name, at an unexpected time. A neighbor, and a reliable source. Questions rushed as voices connected.

“Your house is on fire, and I’ve called 911.”

A house that had been a renovation project for the last three years. An investment of time, money, sweat, and dreams. An historic home in a connected community.

The minutes felt like hours as fear mingled with flashes of dread. The thirty-minute drive home was excruciating.

Then reality. The rush of firemen. The pulse of urgency. The vision of unmanaged destruction.

Text messages pulsed throughout a network of family and friends… of which I was a part. Prayers offered into the uncertainty. Pleas for mercy. For safety.

Then, news began to ripple back on the shores of anticipation. Then a picture. 

Sincere and deep gratitude for lives protected, but grief for property lost. For plans pummeled. For dreams dashed.

The family began taking mental inventory. A journey of the mind from room to room began to assess and accumulate the massive losses. Memories and musical instruments. Technology and tooth brushes. Sacred books and stuffed toys…



Hoses and fountains of water doused the flames, even as the firemen did extraordinary work. Their focus was laser-like accompanied with an air of lament and sobriety.

The moments melted away as a small community assembled at a safe distance from ground zero. Hugs. Tears. Reflection… and calibration.

The flames of destruction exposed the priorities of the soul. No shallow platitudes, but an anchored faith.

A family who knew what they believed about a loving Heavenly Father when they pulled out of their driveway on their way to work and school… who now demonstrated the depth and breadth of that faith. God had not changed. His love hadn’t faded. His trustworthiness hadn’t suffered.

The simmering embers couldn’t extinguish His faithfulness.

Loss with companionship. Devastation with perspective.

The next day… a return trip to the scene. Firemen had remained onsite overnight to galvanize their confidence in their work.

In the light of day, an informed assessment of the magnitude of the destruction. Then a flash of divine communication. A message in the mess.  Not something placed after the fact, but a sacred survivor.  Right where it had been hung when the walls were walls. A reminder that had endured the onslaught; as a proclamation. A contract of the soul.

An angel in the midst of the fiery furnace.

A message of hope with an aroma of smoke.

“It is well…”

Not because sparks don’t ignite fire, but because even then… even in the middle of the fire, God is there. A companion and a comfort.

A family displaced, but souls at home. At rest.

Confident in uncertainty.

Belief surrounded by rubble.

A test.

A family with more questions than answers… emboldened by the God they love, and the community He has dispatched to care for them.  And what a community.  Engaged.  Generous.  Committed. And propelled by Christ’s example to care for the brokenhearted.

A thousand miles from the scene of the destruction, I hear clearly. Indeed, it is well…

We love you, Taylor and Laura. Our prayers surround you. Your Father has you.

Thank you for showing us the way through the ashes to the throne of your King. 

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