Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.

1 Corinthians 3:12-15 (NLT)

With a phone call, my cozy, comfortable afternoon was shattered. “Do you see the fire up the street?” “No,” I replied as my book fell to the floor. We have huge thunderstorms during the summer and I often watch with fascination as lightning streaks across the sky—something new for this California girl. However, a huge crack of thunder and lightning an hour earlier had startled me. It sounded like it was right outside my door. At the same time, I noticed the TV immediately turned to snow. Minutes later I heard fire trucks race up the street but still I did not think fire since we have had fire trucks at our house on two occasions for medical emergencies. Startled, I ran outside to discover flames roaring out of the roof of our friend’s home, a few doors up the street. That boom of lightning had struck their attic and fire engulfed the house. Fire trucks and emergency vehicles littered the street as we watched the streams of water pour out to extinguish the flames. The worst sound was chain saws cutting the garage doors, checking for a car. The neighborhood grapevine crackled with disbelief.At first, we all stood around with no answers because the owners of the house had left that day on a trip to Europe. But, one neighbor had their itinerary and caught them before they flew out. I can only imagine the shock and disbelief they must have felt when they learned that fire had destroyed their home. I spoke with my friend this morning, their trip postponed, and she is so thankful that they are safeand realizes how devastating it could have been. Sure, we enjoy our homes but in the end, stuff is replaceable…life is not. As Icommiserated with one neighbor while watching the firemen, weagreed that the “things” of life are nothing compared to our relationships and the people we love. God reminds us to place our treasure in gold, silver, and precious stones so that when we encounter the fires of life, it will purify rather than destroy and only make them more valuable. This tragedy has forged our neighborhood together in a way that day-to-day life never could. Beauty will rise up from ashes.