Today, July 27, forest fires are devouring the American West. Each blaze has been given a name, imbuing the flames with personalities that can be hated, fought, cursed and cried over.
Like hurricanes named Charlie, Maria, or Lucille, the fires fill our hearts with fear, crash through our living rooms, and leave a wake of tears.
Today provides a really bad example.
"Cranston" is battering Mountain Center, Idyllwild, and Pine Springs Ranch, the Adventist youth camp on the shoulders of Mt. San Jacinto in southern California.
On the California/Oregon border, “Carr” spent the morning chasing residents of Shasta and Redding from their homes. The fire chief in Redding describes “fire tornados” that lifted pick-up trucks into the sky, lit them afire, and the smashed them back to the ground as flaming monsters.
The only humans who remain in Yosemite National Park are firefighters and security personnel. The campers and staff of the Adventist youth camp in Wawona have been evacuated, along with everyone else in and near the park. Only Ferguson the Fire, and a thousand firefighters are allowed in.
This morning, residents of Grants Pass were greeted by a pillar of smoke marking the arrival of even more flames and sadness.
The American West is burning. Our Sequoias, Cedars, pick-ups, and carefully-collected “stuff” turning to grey ash. The manicured trails of our youth camps providing access for hundreds of Vibram-soled saviours, each armed with ax, shovel, radio, protective bag, and a ton of determination.
Pray for them. Please.
The parking area of Rogue River State Park is filled with families, their vehicles packed with kids, pets, and the treasures they chose to carry as they abandoned their past to the flames.
“I’ve never seen a fire move this fast,” said a grizzled firefighter, his face creased with sadness. "We're not fighting the fire anymore, just saving lives."
Is this The End? No.
However, it is a perfect time to do a hard re-set on priorities, to remember that people come first, to choose friendships over stuff, to give “stuff” to those who need it more than we do, and to thank God for youth camp evangelism!
Today, as fires burn, please remember that firefighters also have names. Like, Jesus, Holy Spirit, El Shaddai, Jehovah, and Elohim.
No fire, named or unnamed, is a match for our Support Crew.