The sound of the phone woke the sleeping family. Realizing the time, they finished the call quickly, gathering their things and rushed out the door. They had a "thirty minute" drive and only twenty minutes to make the rehearsal.
Arriving only a few minutes late, they concentrated on the rehearsal for that evening. Services followed the rehearsal, but she had a sense of foreboding filling her. Something was wrong. She could feel it with every fiber of her being--they had to return to their home . . . NOW.
Explaining quickly, they returned to her car for the drive back. Pulling off the highway to the side streets, she felt her sense of distress rising. Finally she was working her way through the maze of dirt roads that let to their home. The long lane leading past their neighbors and on to their home was completely clogged with vehicles. In the distance, she would see strobe lights in the fading light. Unsure from this distance exactly where the emergency vehicles were, the family abandoned their car and rushed toward their home . . . only to find remnants of it standing.
The shell was badly burnt. Part of the house was completely gone. Their horses were running wild in the pasture. Their dogs were missing. Smoke still billowed as the fire department continued to put out "hot spots." In a blink the world as they knew it . . . was gone.
Over the weeks that followed the cause had been found--arson. Who? Why? Questions filled their minds as they desperately tried to regain their sense of balance. Their animals had all be found. Temporary shelter had been found. The ugly work of salvage was ongoing. Yet, the questions they really wanted answered remained. Who? Why?
Slowly, ever so slowly they let go of the pain, picked up the pieces of their lives, and created a new life. One not quite as trusting. One not quite as open. Different than before. Gazing into the past and its haze of pain slowly turned to looking toward the future with hope.
Later, many years later, the pain could still explode without warning through them. Certain smells would trigger a memory and in a blink it was if they saw the wreckage for the first time. Turning a corner to see strobing lights from police or emergency vehicles could cause the sense of panic to return. Even seeing reports on television of homes destroyed by fire could bring the bile rising in their throats. In a blink everything had changed.
As they cried out to God . . . angry, hurt, and afraid, God's peace and love would surround them again. They had survived. They had learned that things could be replaced. They had experienced God's arms holding them and supporting them through the arms of others hold and supporting them. They discovered the grace of God as they walked each day . . . as they discovered their home had blown up only minutes after they walked out the door. They discovered the generosity of God through God's people.
Time gave them perspective. Time allowed them to heal. Time showed them how to go on, pick up the pieces, and embody God's love for others. It did not change the memories. It did not change history. Their lives changed forever is the space of a blink. With God, they continued to grow, to love, and to live for it was only a blink . . . not the end.
Source of comfort and strength, we know with our minds that you are always there for us. Help our hearts to trust you as well. When life changes . . . in only a blink . . . hold us fast as our faith and our emotions regain solid footing. Teach us through these "blinks in time" of your provision . . . and teach us to be your arms of provision to others when their worlds change. Compassion and Strength rather than being at odds with one another hold us fast to one another . . . and to you. So be it. Amen.