Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fire and Water

There is a new administrator at my office, where we do community management and building maintenance for condo associations.  Her supervisor said to her just this week, "Fire and water always require our immediate attention as they can wreck havoc in  a building."

We saw this at Seaside Park on Thursday as 50 businesses were ravaged by fire, a terrible blow after rebuilding much of the area after the water deluge that was Super-storm Sandy barely 11 months ago. Labor Day weekend we had pizza at 3 Brothers From Italy with friends and family.  Now it is reduced to a pile of ash and rubble.  To echo the words of NJ Governor Chris Christie: "I want to throw up."  Yeah.

Ocean front home at Ocean Beach 3 in June 2013
What do you say about such things? July 4th weekend, as I walked around, there were so many wrecked houses, I was speechless.  All summer I was looking for words to express the feelings, looking for what God would say to such things.

Mostly I think God has encouragement.  Jesus told His followers, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) God is bigger than the circumstances.  He is with us in the circumstances.  For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."  (Hebrews 13:5)  This is not God's punishment for the MTV's Jersey Shore or Snooki.   But as each home and business at the beach is in a different state of repair, so should all of us ask ourselves when trouble comes: "what can God tell me in this?"

For me, the call is to continue traveling light.  In the past, we have decorated our beach house in the "it's just a beach house" mode of decor.  Some of the furniture we had before Super-storm Sandy was from the prior owners--and we bought it in 1985 furnished!  Some were new items, like a bookcase and bunk bed from IKEA.  But others were cast-offs from friends, or items garbaged picked at the end of the season.  Although we had to purchase many new items and had to make some costly repairs to be able to live there again this summer, we tried to keep that thought is mind: we need to travel light.  As Paul instructed his protégé Timothy:  Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.  After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

Because no matter how strong Jersey is, there will always be fire and water. Ultimately no one is getting out of this world alive.  Traveling light means knowing that we are on a journey though to Heaven, our real home, and where we stay on earth is merely a perishable tent. Whether our bodies or our house, it is temporary.  Eventually we will leave this planet with nothing, as we came in.  And on the other side, we have nothing from this earth but the people we loved who will meet us there.

All that remains of this ocean front home is this marker.
In the end we are grateful because we were able to repair our beach house enough so we could enjoy family and friends.  The true value of our beach house is not what we have in it, but the people who we can meet and enjoy there.

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (Paul to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Father, help me to trust in You alone, and to be generous always with what you have give me.  No matter what happens, I can trust You!

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