Our lives changed dramatically on Thursday, November 8, 2018. Noticing the unique color of the early-morning sun, we went out to investigate. Roiling black clouds of smoke were the first indication that the flames of the Camp Fire would soon consume our home and possessions, along with most of our town of Paradise, California. Fear was very real as we drove through the flames, leaving the town that had been our home for 14 years. Yet there was a strange sense of peace as the words, “When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you” (Isa. 43:2), became our reality.
Along with many others, we have struggled with symptoms of critical incident stress disorder. Our emotions have swung through the stages of grief over loss and forced change.
Yet we have seen God’s hand and abundant blessings. God’s Word that He brought to Mary three days after the fire—“I will lead them in paths they have not known” (Isa. 42:16)—led us to trust Him for strength and guidance. God led us to a new home near our son and his family, new friends, and a new and different life.
Paul’s words—“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Phil. 4:11, NIV)—have taken on new meaning.
We choose to believe that God is always near. We have discovered that contentment is a choice—a choice to trust that God walks with us, takes care of us, and provides everything we need. His presence is greater than any fire.