What Do You Do When Your House is on Fire?
Rev. L. D. Johnson was chaplain at Furman University for several years. He tells of visiting his grandparents when he was six years old. They were being served breakfast by his grandmother, who was in a wheelchair, when neighbors came running to their house telling them their house was on fire. They got the grandchildren and his grandmother out of the house and then went back to get what they could. He said it was a strange assortment of things they saved: an old iron cook stove, a few beat up chairs and bureau, a mattress and bed springs. That was it. Everything else burned along with the house. He later reflected on this and said, “People do strange things when the house is on fire. They panic and lose perspective.”
As I read his words, it occurred to me that this is true of a culture when it is in crisis. When the house is on fire, we do strange things. Some stand around and shout, “Fire!” Others pitch in and lend a helping hand, but there always seem to be more who shout, “Fire!” than those who fight the fire and help save the valuables. There are some who take off and run away or stand around and watch the fire.
When we look around at all that is happening in our nation today, we know that our house, our culture, our nation is on fire. There are some who are shouting, “Fire!” and warning us about what is going on. That is good but not enough. There are those who are wringing their hands and saying, “Ain’t it awful.” Some are running away and not facing what is happening. What we need are people who will get busy and organize the help available to put out the fire, or at least save the valuables. How can this be done?
It has to start with us, you and me. We need to examine our own priorities in light of the welfare of our nation. Can no one inspire us and inspire our leaders to put the welfare of our country above personal gain and private enjoyment? Have we lost our capacity for moral indignation and unselfish decision making? Are we willing to listen to each other? Our house is on fire. What are you going to do?
One thing we must do is listen to the word of God. His word is a word of hope not despair. It is God who has the last word. One person expressed it this way, “It is Friday when death and violence reign, but Sunday is coming.” Indeed, thanks be to God; He is our hope.
Offered by the Rev. Dr. Michael Elmore
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