Making Space for Whatever’s Next

Making Space for Whatever’s Next
Gene escaped with mismatched socks and a cellphone. Minutes earlier, when his friend called to tell him about the fire, Gene wandered outside, smelled smoke but saw no evidence of flames. Seconds later, the canyon just beyond the back of his house exploded into a firestorm. By the time Gene grabbed his shoes and raced out the door, his neighbor’s house was fully engulfed. Three days later when I finally tracked Gene down at a shelter, he described the road out as a “hallway of flames.” Red-hot embers flew through the air igniting everything they touched. When Gene reached the market at the bottom of the hill, his car was on fire. The home where Gene lived as our tenant for the past 20 years is an investment my husband and I counted on to pay our daughter’s college expenses. Now, it’s just a pile of ash. Two years ago, almost to the day, another wildfire also ripped through Northern California. That blaze took our property, too, a different one, and an empty lot languishes there still. Our insurance company, our bank, our government, and the powers of the universe — not to mention the oppressive policies of California’s overreaching building codes — seem like they’ve colluded to prevent us from rebuilding. Ironically, mortgage payments are still due. Two houses in two years. Cancer. The death of my mom. I guess it’s fair to say that I’ve experienced so many challenges in this season of my life that I’ve pondered the big "Why?" “You don’t have to burn any more of my property,” I told God this morning. “You have my complete attention. I’m waving a huge white flag.” In the silence that followed, I thought I heard a giggle. Not a malicious one, just an acknowledgment. When the world feels crushing, as it does f
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