Still Standing

A fire ravaged through a Texas church on Friday, destroying everything in its path except for a cross.

After the fire, after the chaos, after the dramatic response, the scene of a disaster is assessed. Eyes first see obvious destruction and devastation, the smell of char and ash fill the air, and heat remains from the ruins. If there’s hope, it’s usually cast into the distance with every sense consumed by the presence of the confrontation of loss.

But there is hope. Not wishful thinking but hope for those whose frame around the snapshot extends to the ongoing reel of film of life is a frame of understanding that good and bad happen to all. Yet those who rise despite the loss seem to thrive and even grow through life’s events and circumstances because they choose to rise, stand and move forward. 

In Texas, a church fire provided a visual example of how this may be painted on the canvas of our optically driven minds.

In Bridgeport, Texas, a small community of around 6,000 northwest of Fort Worth headed toward Oklahoma, the Balsora Baptist Church burned with no help from the scorching weather along with winds. The church had stood in this rural community for more than 120 years with a story that will last likely longer after the smoke cleared.

After unsuccessfully fighting the blaze, a collapsed roof and three non-life-threatening injuries, more than 40 firefighters saw standing among the ruins a cross. Stunned, the Wise County Fire Department spokesman related, “A devastating loss to our community, but a sight to behold. The fire took the structure, but not the cross. A symbol that the building was just that, a building. The Church is the congregation, and where two or more gather, there He shall be also.”

The response involved eight different fire units along with state agencies, but the remains of the church sanctuary were inventoried to be the Cross, a stack of Bibles and the frame of a piano.

“That cross is where we would get little pieces of paper with a string and everyone put all their family members and different ones they wanted to pray for and we hung them up on that cross,” Pastor Sonny Smith explained pointing to the value of the enduring cross. “It’s an absolute miracle that that cross made it through the fire when nothing else did.”

The wise will take this moment to ask of themselves, “What will remain, endure the churn and chaos of life as a symbol of my own strength and resolve?”

It’s been written by a very learned, renowned man whose life was changed that, “each one’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each one’s work.” The excerpt from Paul’s letter to the Church of Corinth seems appropriate for the folks of Balsora Baptist but applies to all. What will still stand and remain from your life?