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We Almost Lost It All Last Week

Where I live, we are just recovering from some severe cold weather. Apparently, we were colder than the South Pole. The people who tell us about the weather like to tell stories about the weather, but in the middle of the cold spell, we nearly lost everything we have at home, possibly including our lives.

This really happened.

Last Sunday, we had a stay at home day. I like to go to church, but I had vehicle problems in the cold, and it seemed wise to stay safe at home. We had a boring day, but when we thought about going out, we just looked out the window and changed out minds. Late in the day, I asked my wife if she wanted to take a break and go out, and we were thinking about it.

That’s when we heard the noise.

I thought I heard the sound of a vehicle backing up outside. You probably know how a back-up alarm beeps many times. This alarm beeped too many times. It almost seemed like someone was stuck in the snow. We went out to check, but we couldn’t locate the source of the sound. We waited, and the sound continued, so we did a careful search.

We live in an old apartment, about seventy years old, and it is mostly made from wood, which is dry and flammable now. It’s one of those cute old buildings with hardwood floors, and friendly old neighbors. In the summer we have too many flowers and the residents have little garden patches. My wife is the manager, and it’s nice.

Last Sunday, we finally realized that an alarm was active in someone’s apartment, and that could be serious. We tracked the sound and finally located the source in the apartment right next to ours. We contacted the resident and she told us to go in and check. She was out somewhere.

When we opened the door of her apartment, I still remember the strange sight. I didn’t expect much, but I saw a strange orange light, and that light was flickering or dancing. That’s the best way I can describe it. There was also a haze in the place, which was probably smoke.

You have probably guessed, I saw light from flames. There was a fire burning in that apartment, right next to us. And there was plenty of fuel, dry wood, furniture, and carpeting, and the temperature outside was colder than minus 30 C, or minus 22 F.

We were watching the start of a perfect fire storm. It would be a firefighter’s worst nightmare, with older people locked in their apartments, or trying to survive in the severe weather. The best case scenario is that we could lose our property and escape with our lives, and maybe all of out old neighbors would survive.

I looked closely, and the flames were coming from a pool of hot melted wax. Our neighbor had a scented candle in a glass holder. She told us later that she had extinguished the flame, but after she left, it re-started. The flames were dancing on the surface and the glass holder was fracturing from the heat. Pieces of glass had fallen away, but I am happy to report that the wax was still below the fracture line and the hot burning liquid had not spilled onto the furniture and floor. If it had spilled, the building would have burned.

I tried to put out the flames, but there was nothing I could do. Finally, I took a pan from the kitchen and held it over the flames. This didn’t help, so I flipped the pan upside down and help it over the flames for a while. When I checked, the flames were gone. Before they relit, I held the glass container with some kitchen tongs and carried it carefully to the kitchen sink. That was all I knew how to do, and I don’t know why I thought of the pan trick.

When the resident rushed home, she was tearful and very sorry, and she kept saying something. She kept telling us that it was so amazing that we were home and knew what to do. I didn’t know what to do, I just guessed, but there were many coincidences in the story. We could say, we were lucky, many times over.

We could also say that God protected us.

That’s what we are saying now. On a quiet Sunday afternoon, we nearly lost everything, possibly even out lives. Somehow, it all worked out, and the damage was small.

I called this the providence of God. We didn’t have an obviously supernatural experience, but we were saved by many lucky coincidences; too many. People in the building who are not religious have told us about the odd string of coincidences, and they can’t explain it.

I can’t prove that God helped us, but I am here now, and all the danger is gone. We were saved by the providence of God, or we were lucky to an amazing level. I should buy a lottery ticket.

We have chosen to thank God that we are all safe. “The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” (Psalm 145:9)

Belief is a choice, and we can usually explain away the coincidences that seem to be God’s providence. That’s what makes it providence.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story … Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.

Psalm 107: 1 and 2, and 43

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