Jesus in Everyday Life, My Story, Surrender to Jesus

Gutted by Fire

We don’t have to stay charred, burned out, gutted shells void of purpose and vitality!

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This photograph stopped me in my tracks.

I couldn’t look away.

Every detail seared into my brain.

I didn’t even realize the effect it was having on me until silent tears splashed onto the back of my hands.

Caleb Wyre, one of our church’s youth pastors, is a gifted photographer. He understands that a great photo isn’t about perfect lighting or how the other elements are manipulated. A great photo is one that speaks to you. Stirs the emotions. Pulls at the heart. Makes you contemplate things deep within, beyond the contents of the picture.

And this photo did that to me and so much more.


Lumber baron William Thompson built Thorwood in 1880 as his private mansion. After that time, his home faithfully served the community as a hospital, doctor’s office, bed and breakfast, and vacation condo/retreat center. Despite the changes in need and purpose, Thorwood stood like a pillar, steadfastly upholding the history and character of the town.

Then tragedy struck.

In the pre-dawn hours of December 14, 2017, fire ripped through this beautiful old building—scorching, searing, consuming everything in its path. Nothing was left unmarred or intact. What once was a stunning mansion—bright and cheery, warm and inviting—is now a ravaged shell blackened with char. Hallways that once echoed with laughter and babies belting out their first cry no longer exist. Rooms that once provided comfort for the sick and a respite for the weary traveler now play host to devastation.

And it’s this devastation that shatters my heart.

Because beyond the contents of this photo I see the shadows of so many bright and cheerful lives that have been ravaged by the fires of tragedy. Destroyed by the selfish acts of others. Devastated by circumstances beyond their control.

I see dreams scorched beyond recognition. Futures unstable due to the loss of a job, home, or financial security. Hearts gutted by the death of a parent, child, or marriage. Confidence turned into ash because of abuse and bullying.

I see funloving, free-spirited personalities now playing host to wariness, insecurity, and distrust. Tender hearts that once glowed with vitality are now cold and brittle, blackened with char.

In this photo—I see me.

Or should I say, who I used to be?

Fire

When repressed memories of sexual abuse came to light, it felt like a fire had torn through my life. Its flames turned the façade of my past into a pile of smoldering ash—wreckage as far as the eye could see. A thick blanket of soot covered everything in darkness.

I felt gutted. Void of energy and purpose. Insecure. Empty.

Once the shock wore off, suicidal fantasies flooded into the cavernous spaces. I believed I no longer had anything to offer. Nothing to live for. I convinced myself my husband would be better off with a different wife and my children would thrive under the care of a different mother. They didn’t need me. I would only hold them back.

And I had two bottles of Vicodin from my husband’s previous knee surgeries…

Then The Carpenter came.

He assessed the damage, confirmed the instability, and tested for hot-spots. Once his evaluation was complete, He turned and smiled. Warm and loving. A Spring sun after a long cold winter.

adult blur carpenter carpentry
Photo by Fancycrave on Pexels.com

“First, I’m going to take you down to your foundation. Then I’m going to reinforce it before I rebuild you. Once you’re whole, I will use you for My glory.” Then His voice grew quiet and intense, “But your scars will remain. They will be a testimony to what I’ve done for you; they’ll remind you of who you were, who you are, and what you’ll become. And I will use them to help others heal.”

As He talked, I didn’t miss His scars. Especially those on His strong, capable hands.

The cleanup and reconstruction was a very long and sometimes painful process. Yet—it was liberating. Everything that prevented me from fulfilling God’s purpose in my life was burned away. Everything that kept me from being who God wanted me to be went up in flames. Every stumbling block to completely following Jesus in all areas of my life are now ash along with my bitterness, shame, anger, and hard heart.

Beloved, if you’re broken and shattered; ravaged by tragedy and destruction; enslaved by addiction; etc. you don’t have to stay that way! God wants to rebuild you.

Like a phoenix, God drew me out of the ashes and made me stronger and more resilient than I was before. He made my life beautiful and worth living. He gave me an insatiable hunger for His word and a curious mind to dig deeper into it as I apply it to my life. And He ignited a passion for lost and broken students and young adults.

But…

I had to let Him work in my life. I needed to let Him remove the debris, take me down to my foundation, and rebuild me. I had to get the counseling I needed, pour my heart into journals, and sink my roots into His Word.

Fire and BibleIt was there I found the strength to put one foot in front of the other, get out of bed every day, and care for myself and my family. His Word nourished my soul and healed the brokenness. It was there I found the nutrients to grow and the endurance to continue through the renovations. It was there I found the courage to share my story and proclaim what God had done more me. It was there I found my purpose in investing in the lives of others.

God wants the same thing for you!

How do I know?

Check out this promise in Isaiah 61. This is Jesus talking! Hear His voice as He whispers to you.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

because the Lord has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives

and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the Lord ’s favor

and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn,

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty

instead of ashes,

the oil of joy

instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise

instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,

a planting of the Lord

for the display of his splendor.

Isaiah 61:1-3, NIV

 

Now, this is how I read it:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

because the Lord has anointed me

to proclaim good news to Cheyenne.

He has sent me to bind her broken heart,

to proclaim freedom from her captivity

and release her from darkness,

to proclaim the year of the Lord ’s favor

and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort Cheyenne as she mourns,

and provide for her when she grieves—

to bestow on Cheyenne a crown of beauty

instead of ashes,

the oil of joy

instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise

instead of a spirit of despair.

Cheyenne will be called an oak of righteousness,

a planting of the Lord

for the display of his splendor.

Isaiah 61:1-3, NIV

That is how I know God wants to restore you and make you new.

My scars are still there. But so are His! See His hands. His feet. His side. They all reveal what He chose to go through so He could make me new. Make you new.

If you look closely, you can even see a myriad of scars on His brow where he bore the curse of our sin.

Beloved, give Him your brokenness. Let The Carpenter heal you, rebuild you, and make you new. It’s worth it! I promise.

Blessings xoxo

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