A burning smell permeated the air, and the house was filling with smoke. Our sweet bed-time rituals with the cherubs were abruptly interrupted when smoke began pouring out of a light fixture. Though the light fixture itself was on the upstairs ceiling in the hallway between the cherubs' bedrooms, the wires were burning in the attic and we couldn't see if there were open flames.
The operator at the 9-1-1 call center instructed me to get our children and ourselves out of the house immediately. Our cherubs responded so amazingly to this emergency and promptly exited the house with our dog Holly. They walked quickly to our neighbor's home for safe shelter. I moved the cars out of the garage and down the street while our neighbor made sure there was a clear path to the fire hydrant in front of our home.
On this crisp spring night dressed in my pajamas, I stood on the sidewalk in front of our home praying for my husband who was still inside investigating. Blaring sirens of emergency vehicles got closer and closer.Though the sound of emergency sirens is not uncommon, this time I knew the vehicles toting those sirens were headed to our home. While it only took them a few minutes to arrive, it felt like forever. Tears streamed down my face as I prayed for God's protection and covering over our family and our home.
The smell of the smoke had crept outside just as a squadron of emergency vehicles converged in front of our home. Football-stadium-esque lights were erected and our home was lit up in the night sky so the firefighters could see. Concerned neighbors ran to us to be sure we were safe and to see if they could help.
I'll never forget the vision of one of the firefighters racing up to our home with an ax in his hand. Trying to be light-hearted in this scary and unknown situation, I asked him to please not use the ax on my walls unless really necessary....or unless he was going to take down the wallpaper I've been wanting down for years. He nodded his head with unspoken understanding of my heart's deeper concern, and I felt God's peace fill my heart knowing that He had placed us in good hands.
Tears of thankfulness poured down my cheeks as I waited for the firefighters to come back outside. God had been so gracious and merciful to us as a family, and I knew that already...before even getting a report from the firefighters of what was going on with the electrical wires in the attic. This could have been much worse. I knew that already.
God has given us warning signs. For months, that light fixture was asking for help....with light bulbs flickering and then burning out one after another. To us, this was just a nuisance. We would change the light bulbs but not address the root problem. These warning signs were saying "I need attention; I need repair". Instead of investigating and addressing the root problem, we just kept changing light bulbs and ignoring the fact that there was a problem.
As I stood outside make-up-less, in pajamas and bare feet on the sidewalk just a few weeks ago during this incident, I praised our God who was tenderly whispering into our hearts, "Don't ignore the warning signs". He is so gracious and merciful. We had ignored them. We pushed aside the gracious warning signs and called them a "nuisance". Yet, God was good. He protected us.
The fire chief came outside to me with the burned light fixture one of the firefighters removed from our ceiling. He assured me that they had done a thorough search, that there were no open flames in our attic or upstairs bedrooms and that the heat sensor device gave them the "all clear" that the dry wall and surrounding insulation were all cool and safe. This was a miracle. The wires of the light fixture burned....to the point of leaving a burn mark through our upstairs ceiling. Yet, there were no open flames and no further fire damage. "Mrs. Sloan, the good news for you is that you get to go shopping for new light fixtures tomorrow!" Honestly, I wasn't much in the mood for shopping. My heart was so thankful and humbled that I just fell to my knees and thanked the Lord.
The smoke and smell lingered, and we slept with our windows all open that night. Though the smell was unpleasant, it served as a sweet reminder to us. God is faithful. And He loves us enough to remind us "Don't ignore the warning signs". God is gracious.
We had ignored the warning signs. This electrical burn emergency in our home a few weeks ago has made a huge impact on my husband's heart and my heart. "Don't ignore the warning signs." Don't ignore the warning signs of life. In marriage, with your children, in friendships and in all relationships.
Are you ignoring God's gracious warning signs in your marriage or elsewhere in your life? Don't. Address the warning signs in His love and with His truth. Tend to them. Get to the root of the problem. Remove and throw out the hazardous lighting fixture and install a brand new one. Don't just change the light bulbs.
Ask the Lord to search your heart and mind today. Ask Him to reveal clearly to you the warning signs, which are evidence of a deeper problem. The Giver of New Life wants you to start fresh. He wants to restore, heal and transform your relationships. In His courage and strength, address the root problems with determination and perseverance. Consider the possible devastation and don't ignore the warning signs.
"Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares...If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you." Proverbs 1:20, 23