It was wretchedly ironic, truly it was. There is stood, bold as brass, a billboard stretching 30 feet long, large thick letters proclaiming “Come here to by your new Home! In our new subdivision!”. The truly ironic part was the background this billboard stood courageously in front of; charred mountainside. Blackened broken homes. Dry dead trees. The effects of the Waldo Canyon fire.
As I gazed at the depressingly ironic scene before me, the fragility of life struck. Or perhaps, to be ecclesiastical about it, the futility of life. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just give up on life, love, and happiness, but there was a dark cloud that came over my heart. I thought, maybe, as the Joker in Batman says “Everything burns”. Sometimes it can seem that way when our lives fall in around us, as life has for many Coloradans in the past weeks. When something you are so familiar with (like your home), or something that has played a large role in who you are (like your town) is threatened or taken away, it can make you doubt the very core of who you are. The very reason you are here. What or who truly matters?
I think often we live our lives like that sign, bold and ignorant to the world raging around us. We build our houses, base our lives on them, not realizing how truly disposable they are. Without meaning to, we live lives that are terribly flammable. And when all we are familiar with is taken away, we are left gasping for air and wondering what this crazy thing called life is truly about.
There is a poster that went up all over my city shortly after the Waldo Canyon Fires began that said “Community Doesn’t Burn Down”. When I saw it, It echoed true in my soul. For I knew that there were truly things that are inflammable in life. And those things are the eternal things. The things we are meant to live for, that will never burn, never fade, never die. They are the things that make a life longer than 80 years, a legacy more than inheritance, a day more than 24 hours.
The key of it all lies here; this life time is not the end all be all, we are heavenly beings on our journey home. The notions that ought to concern us are the true, real, incorruptible, heavenly things. Faith, friendship, love, truth, laughter, family, forgiveness, stories, music. These things do not burn. When die, they don’t die with us. Every day, we choose either to build our lives of wood and clay, or of love and faith. And truly, what is worth laboring for? When we spend our whole life gathering earthly-ness, it is nonsense. What of earth belongs in heaven? And we belong in Heaven. These words have meant more to me in the last weeks, with emergency after emergency, than any other time in my life.
““Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
There is a life, a treasure that is not corruptible. And that is what we ought to be building our lives on. When you labor at your life, to build the things of this earth, then you come to the end and realize “this is it! Nothing else! I have build my kingdom here, and there is nothing more. I have had my reward here.” And what sort of a reward is that when it is so unsure even on earth? No, I want to die someday, knowing that I have built a life, a kingdom, a legacy beyond my years. And I truly want to build that kingdom as the kingdom of heaven, with God.
This is not to say that the things of this world, homes, food, music ect., are pointless. They are not! In fact I think they are types and shadows of what heaven will be like. But the true value in all those things is the love and relationships that they create. For that is what makes the richness of it all! Not the things. And so, as my state has so incomprehensibly proved, Community does not burn. Love does not burn. Faith does not burn.
So, let us live live lives that are inflammable. That no matter what comes, we know in the deepest parts of our souls, that even if we loose everything here, we have lost nothing in the long run. For there is a treasure in heaven if we live our lives in expectancy of it.
To sign off, I leave with you with a quote from one of my favorite authors, LM Montgomery, in passage from “Anne of the Island” as Anne grapples with the death of her friend Ruby, for it’s just like I feel after these last weeks.
“Anne walked home very slowly in the moonlight. The evening had changed something for her. Life held a different meaning, a deeper purpose. On the surface it would go on just the same, but the deeps had been stirred. It must not be with her as with poor butterfly Ruby. When she came to the end of one life it must not be to greet the next with shrinking terror of something wholly different- something from which accustomed thought and ideal and aspiration had unfitted her. The little things of life, sweet and excellent in their place, must not be the things lived for, the highest must be sought and lived for: The life of heaven must be begun here on earth.”
Love and all that.