Living in the Midst of Smoke and Fire

It has been quite a week around here in the South OC City of Lake Forest, California. I woke up last Monday to 60 mile an hour winds and choking smoke covering the entire area and making it hard to see or breath. I live in the northern part of the city near Foothill Ranch and close to all the hills and canyons. The toll road I usually take was closed since the Santiago Canyon fire was jumping the 8 lane road 1 1/2 miles ahead.

I was heading out on a business trip that day, it took me an extra hour and a half to get out of town. I almost didn’t go since the fire was about a mile from my house, however, it was headed in another direction at the time.

My neighborhood is safe from 3 directions, however a fire could come over the hills from the north, but it would have to go right through the Saddleback Church (where Rick Warren is pastor) before it got to us. In the natural, I’m sure that fire crews would work overtime to save the Church buildings and campus. In the Spiritual, I’m sure that there’s a hedge around it ( I don’t care what you have heard about the church, thousands have come to Christ there and it has been a real blessing for this community).

As I was going out the I-15, the wind was blowing 60 mph past Ontario with gusts up to 90. I came to one stretch where two trucks were blown over on their side and one huge 40′ motorhome somehow spun around and ended up facing the wrong way. Just when I was thankful for not being there when that all happened, a gust of wind hit my van and I found myself in the next lane, fortunately it was empty at the time. After throwing up a quick prayer, I continued the trip being very thankful when I was finally out of the area.

When I came home Thursday night, the fire was visible high on the hill a couple of miles northeast of my house. Outside there was ashes everywhere. My daughters dark blue car, which is stored in our driveway, was an ashen white color. As I unloaded my bags, I noticed that my eyes were burning and my breathing was labored.

Friday morning as I was reading the paper, there was map on the local page which showed the burn area of the fire. There were all these jagged edges representing the path of the fire. Then I noticed something rather remarkable. When the fire got to the hill across Toll Road from the Saddleback Church, it looked like someone had taken and drawn the fire line with compass. It was a perfect semi circle. I said to myself, “I was right, there’s definitely a hedge around that property”, I believe that I heard the Spirit say “Yep!” to that.

Friday evening we went to the movies. It was a surreal scene as we stood in line with a hundred folk or so waiting for our turn to get the tickets. Six fire trucks went by with lights and Sirens blaring. We could see the fire up on a distant hill and smoke still filled the air. But life goes on even in the midst of the smoke and fire. We saw a great movie (‘Bella’ – it was a good pro-life family story) and for a few minutes life was back to normal.

Saturday came and with it a welcome change of weather. No wind, cooler temperatures, and it was overcast with far greater humidity. The fire crews were finally able to make some headway against the blaze. I could not longer see the fire directly, but only the reflection of it on the hills as it went down another canyon to the east. That evening at 4:45, as I went to the market, the rain began to fall, Praise God. It is hard to express how happy I was at that moment. When I got to the market, I noticed that the hills behind it were all black, but in the rain I saw God’s promise to overcome the fire and the damage.

Sunday morning at church as we worshiped and sang, one song in particular was filled with new meaning:

“Lord we ask, would you come

Send your rain on everyone.”

We have had a lot of prophetic messages lately which speak of natural disasters coming to our area. There is a sense that this is just the beginning of trouble for South OC. But along with the dreams, visions, and messages of disaster, there is also the promise of revival sweeping through our area once more, like it did nearly forty years ago.

In the natural, this is a dry and thirsty land, so also in the Spiritual. I look at the fire on the hill and I see that promise of revival sweeping through this land just like the fire did. Praise God, Come Holy Spirit Come! *Top

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