the fire miracle

Saturday, December 14, 2013

In my mom’s kitchen, for almost all of my childhood and adult years, there sat a kerosene heater. When you grow up in a house built during the Civil War, you need some supplementary heating during the winter. Many a child has learned how to be safe around a very hot heater in a fairly small space, and mine have been no exception.

In the winter after Brenden and Raniah came to live with us, we were in the middle of some of the ugliest and hardest parts of their foster care case. Things were not going well, and I had so much fear for their future. We were sitting in the kitchen one winter morning, Brenden was warming his hands towards the heater, and I was trying to keep a careful eye on him during our conversation. His hands were getting too close, and both my mama and I cautioned him about his safety. She reached over to turn the heater off just as a precaution, and the minute she touched the knob, he laid his little three-year-old hands flat on the top of the metal kerosene heater.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with this type of heater, but they get blazing hot. This happened to be one of the older types without a protective grate on the top of it. His hands lay directly on the metal that been just a few inches over the open flame.

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Amid our choruses of ‘no, no, no’, Brenden immediately began crying. I jumped up from the rocking chair, picked him up and carried him to the sink to begin running cool water over his hands. My mom went to get some other supplies. I left his hands under the water a good long while, then we sat down on the chair, my hands on his head, terror in my heart, and my mama turned his hands over and began to put vitamin E oil on them. As she gently rubbed his bright red hands with the oil, I began to whisper prayers over him, calming him and us down together.

We were looking at each other in some confusion when we realized his hands were not burned. I was cautious, assuming that maybe the burns would show up later or some such nonsense. Not believing. I saw him place his whole palms straight on the top of the heater. No amount of actual visible evidence was convincing me that he was not seriously injured. Yet he wasn’t.

“…Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet.”
James 5:13-14

My mama knew right away. She believed it was a sign for us, for our family, for Brenden that God was with him. That He was going to take care of him. That no matter what Brenden’s future held, and we just didn’t know what was going to happen at that point, God had His hand of protection on our sweet boy. She wanted to tell people, asked me to share about it the next Sunday at church. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t go to that place. I was so oppressed by the fear and the deep, dark places that we were sitting in alongside our son, that I couldn’t even talk about it. The most obvious of miracles, with the most unexplainable happening, and I just couldn’t accept it.

Today, finally, after three years, I can’t even write this without crying. Both for the miracle that happened to my precious boy and for the doubt that kept me from it for so long. The God that protected Brenden from horrific burns is the same God who sheltered him during that miraculous meeting regarding his future. The God who plucked Brenden and his sisters from the hell they were living in is the same God who gave them new names, placed them in families that are helping them heal today.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
Isaiah 43:1-2

That’s the kind of miraculous Fire God that we serve. The God who can ignite a dripping wet altar with fire from heaven is the same God who loves us with a passion that we cannot even comprehend. This furious love – this is the love that can beat death and sickness and injury and trauma and abuse and neglect and loneliness and rejection and shame. Christmas reminds us that while that Love came in the most vulnerable of forms, it blazes bright like fire with glory and light, and we will not be overcome.

The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.
John 1:5

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