Ever had a day when the hurt of the world feels so big it makes you wonder if your little life, your small everyday moments, really matter–when your to-do list feels like a cop-out and your heart screams at you to stand up and make a difference in some grand, visible way?
Intellectually, I know what God has called me to, but today it feels like piffle. At the same time I find myself staring at the vase of black-eyed Susans, dahlias and hydrangeas on the kitchen table because it’s the only tidy place in the whole room.
How can my chores compare to the battles of firefighters?
The moon rose red Saturday from all the smoke, rose above the firs over the coffee pavilion where we listened to Steve McDonald play Celtic music while forest fires burned out of control on both sides of the Cascade range.
Thirteen firefighters lost their lives so that other people’s families, homes, lands, and forest might survive and flourish. One man with decades of safe firefighting lost his firefighting son last week and wishes it was himself.
We haven’t seen the neighbors for weeks. Both are rangers and firefighters. Lord, have mercy on them. Please protect them. Please, send rain.
While our daughter, son-in-law, and four kids played in the sprinkler and pool with us, banged croquet balls across dry grass, or waded in the low creek, other people buried their sons and daughters who died fighting fires.
I can’t get my heart around that pain. Lord, please comfort those families who have lost loved ones. I don’t want them to think we’re playing at our little mountain cabin heedless of their sacrifices.
I don’t want them to think we take our green-treed butte for granted. Every good thing is a gift every day. Even coughing from the ash reminds that clean air is precious and not guaranteed, that men and women fight to preserve it for us.
Our eldest granddaughter called me on the mountain to say she’d entered Chocolate-Chip Cookies in the County Fair. This meant, since she spends most days with me, I’d have two hours when I got home to bake an entry also, so I’d have a pass to take her to the Fair.
I whisked my Cinnamon-Raisin bars out of the oven with 45 minutes to cool, frost, and deliver. I set up a complicated cooling arrangement in the car using frozen gel packs on a rack over the cookie bars in front of air conditioning vents turned on HIGH. I started the engine.
The cup of confectioner’s glaze dumped over in the car. I saved enough for four bars–the required entry. The hot bars collapsed into indistinct lumps when I cut them.
I know what bothered me. I didn’t merely want to enter. I wanted to WIN. All the way to the Fairgrounds I prayed–Please get me there on time. I thought about whether or not this was a worthy prayer. Was it for my glory or God’s?
Then I remembered all the love funneled into this moment. I remembered teaching my granddaughter how to crack eggs when she was ten months old, how she graduated to French toast and surprised us with breakfast one morning.
Love is what He’s about. Love is what matters. The firefighter who lost his son isn’t crying because his son can’t fight fires anymore, but because they will never again share the small, everyday French toast moments of love that make life worth getting up for.
They’ve sacrificed those for you and for me.
I hope my granddaughter wins a blue ribbon. As for me, by God’s grace, I entered the Fair with four minutes to spare. Then I went home, hosed confectioner’s glaze off the car rug, did the laundry, washed dishes, went grocery-shopping and made dinner–honorable work, holy ground–building blocks for tomorrow.
Tomorrow, I’ll take the girls to see farm animals, carnival rides, and Chocolate-Chip Cookie awards. Tomorrow, Lord willing, we’ll share countless, small, everyday moments purchased with sacrifices and love I can’t begin to fathom, both Divine and human.
Please pray for firefighters and the families of those
who are lost. Write a note of gratitude to a firefighter or policeman. Then give thanks for all those small moments of love that aren’t so small, after all—the ones so valuable that, at this very moment, people who don’t know us believe they’re worth risking their lives and even dying for.