The song, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, first recorded in 1933, was later made famous by the doo-wop group, The Platters, in 1959. The song is a powerful ballad that a man in love whose friends caution him that he is blind to the truth: When your heart's on fire (metaphor for being in love), You must realize, Smoke gets in your eyes.
I thought about this song as I took my morning walk and felt relief that the wildfire very near us seems to be under control. More than a thousand acres have burned and some evacuations have happened around us but fortunately we seem to be safe at the moment. The fires are way too close for comfort and, unfortunately, we have been through this before. We packed up the essentials and most valued possessions. We were prepared to leave quickly if the winds continued to blow the fire toward our home.
Finally, the large tanker airplanes arrived and began to dump water and fire retardant on the fire and we began to relax. Fortunately, there has been no loss of life and homes have been saved. I cannot express enough gratitude for the firefighters who are bravely battling this fire in this extreme heat wave. They are amazing and so dedicated.
I think of the question so often asked: "If a flood, fire, or other danger was headed for you, what possessions would you gather up to take with you?" A lot of people say family photos or heirlooms etc. The real question is what is most important to you in life. After many of the recent tornadoes and disasters, most people say something like, "Even though we have lost everything, we did not lose each other. We can replace things but not life." Some who have lost loved ones simply do not know how they are going to carry on.
My husband and I have been very lucky, really. We did lose a car in a flood, which was scary since I was 8 months pregnant at the time and we literally had to swim out of the flooding while our car was swept away. We were not injured. We have been threatened by several fires, but have never lost our home. When I look back over my entire life, I could name several life-threatening situations that I/we have gone through--especially in Africa. But we are still here. We have been lucky, while others have not.
I have to confess something about a theological bias of mine. I really disagree with the phrase, "God will never give you more than you can handle." I have an edit that I'd like for you to consider. It is that God will always be with us no matter what happens, but that God does not bring the disasters.
I do not believe that God brings disaster, tragedy, illness, and heartache upon us. We live in a universe of constant change that is impacted by human actions and, sometimes, our blatant disregard for creation or each other. We live in a fragile, yet, wondrous world with very imperfect human bodies and actions. The natural order and nature's way provides its own challenges. How we choose to respond to God and each other is critical in understanding and living this life. The important thing for me is the assurance that I will never have to walk alone. Smoke may get in my eyes. There are times I do not see or understand things very well. But even in the smoke, I know that God is with me and will provide a way even when there seems to be no way.
Prayer: I give thanks for the brave, kind people who risk their lives to manage disasters and save lives. Thank you for your assurance, O God, and promises that I will never have to go through the challenges of this earthly life by myself. Even when I feel that I can NOT handle things, I know you will help me find my way through the smoke. I give thanks for such amazing love. Amen.