“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.”
This passage from 1 Corinthians 3, emphasis mine, was part of our Scripture reading at church on Sunday.
This is what I was thinking about:
A day earlier, my grandparents’ house had burned. By the grace of God, although it was the middle of the night, they escaped, mostly unharmed physically, but devastated emotionally. (This photo was taken by the incredible fire department and its members who responded to the call.)
My mother was raised in this home. Nearly every childhood memory I have of my grandparents involves this home. Fifty years worth of memories — gone in practically no time.
Our pastor could not have known this when he prepared his sermon for Sunday. I love how God works that out. He talked about foundational faith and building from the ground up. And I couldn’t stop thinking about my grandparents’ house.
I can tell you this: the fire didn’t damage everything.
My grandmother, though technically homeless, offered my kids and me their room at my parents’ house when we come to visit next week. We declined, but that’s the sort of sacrificial person she is. They’re receiving clothes and support from the community they’ve faithfully served for most of their married life, and when I asked her what I could tell people she needed, she thought only of those who were helping them.
Gas cards, she said, to give to the people who are taking them to appointments.
She hasn’t much to give herself, yet she’s still thinking of others.
“Fire will test the quality of each person’s work” — The work the Lord has done in my grandmother is of an imperishable nature.
Losing all the stuff that’s “yours” has to be one of the worst things a human can experience. My grandfather has mourned the loss of things, but that’s not where he’s staying in his mind.
“You can’t take it with you anyway,” my grandfather said when I talked to him today. “We’ll get a new house and new stuff.”
He told me about his new wardrobe and how he has more clothes now than he had before. I could hear the hint of the lighthearted, joking man I know.
The fire took a lot of things, but it didn’t take the important things.
When my life is tested by fire, what will I find that is left? Will my life consist only of things that could be burned up in a fire? Or will something far more valuable, and indestructible remain?