All Things New

Brian and I stood in the driveway of our home.  It was still a sight to behold.

"At least it didn't burn completely to the ground," he said.

I nodded, unable to say much.  It had been two days.  Everything was quiet now.  The fire trucks were gone.  The news media packed up and left.  The neighborhood gathering had disappeared.  Everyone had gone back to their normal lives.

We all escaped safely, that's what was most important.  No matter how many times I repeated those words to myself, it was still very emotional to see our home destroyed, along with everything in it.

A mini-van pulled up to the edge of the driveway.  I couldn't bring myself to turn around.  I'd had my fill of sightseers; those who drove by taking videos and photographs of our burned home.  I am sure it was interesting to see, but I was not entertained.

"This happened to me a year ago," I heard a voice say from the window of the mini-van.

I turned to see a middle-aged woman with a messy ponytail in the driver's seat.  I slowly walked over to her vehicle.

"I live two blocks away from here," she said.  "I just heard about your fire and I wanted to come by to encourage you.  And tell you I am so sorry."

Her kindness broke down my walls, and I immediately felt my eyes well up with tears. 

"You know what you should do?" she said to me.  "If you feel up to it, you should drive by my house.  It is the only one in the neighborhood that looks brand new."  She cracked a smile.  "When you rebuild, you'll have the newest house on the block."

I couldn't imagine how we would rebuild this mess.  The ceiling had fallen in, the house was flooded with water from fire hoses.  Most of the roof was gone.  Everything smelled like smoke, everything was ruined.

All of a sudden, I found myself in my driveway, pouring my heart out to a woman that I didn't even know.  I cried as I told her how hard I fought to stop the fire.  I told her that I couldn't stop smelling smoke everywhere I went.

"I wake up screaming every night," I told her.  "I think the room is on fire."

"It will be a while," she said in sympathy.  "It didn't stop for me for a few months.  But, it did stop.  And you will eventually stop smelling smoke.  But, after a year, I still have no interest in going camping and sitting by a fire."

We chuckled and I cringed at the same time.  A campfire sounded like torture.  "I never want to sit by a campfire again," I said.  "I know, me too," she responded.

It was such a relief to know these problems may be temporary.  At the time, my mind couldn't let go of the anxiety, the pain.  Even if it was a few months down the road, the idea that I might not wake up screaming every night for the rest of my life was comforting.

She left me with her phone number and she drove away.

"Are you ready to go?" Brian asked me.

"Yes," I said, "But maybe on the way to the hotel we can drive by her house?"

Brian smiled, anxious to find something to help my sadness.  We had to drive around for a while, but we eventually found her home.  Just as she said, her house stuck out in the neighborhood like a sore thumb.  It was a brand new, stunning home.

"It doesn't even smell like smoke," I told my husband.  "You would never know there was a fire."

We must have sat and stared at her house for fifteen minutes.  I couldn't believe how beautiful it was.  We kept commenting on everything we liked about the home, and we started to have some ideas about what our home could look like. We saw it was possible to rebuild and not even smell like smoke!

I couldn't help but think about how God can make all things new.  Before that encounter, I couldn't imagine ever rebuilding our home.  It was such a disaster.  But, because of the kindness of a total stranger, I was given hope in the midst of my darkness.

I am so grateful.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.


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