A Glimpse of Hell: The Deadly Texas Wildfires
We're in the middle of the worst drought in Texas history. Our area is 24" short of rainfall so far. The bone dry conditions and high winds brew the perfect wildfire cocktail. And they are raging.
Yesterday, I saw the giant plumes of smoke on the horizon. Believing family and friends in danger, I hurried to my car and drove toward the fires.
As I got closer, I realized with great relief that my sisters' homes were safe. But the plume was dangerously close to my best friend's home. After reaching her house and discovering all was well, the large smokey billows pulled me closer. I don't know what I was looking for. I just needed to wrap my mind around the fact that it was actually happening so close to home.
As I drove up FM 1486 outside of Magnolia, I glimpsed hell on earth. The crimson ladened black smoke choked out the sunlight. The smell of smoke burned my nostrils. The picture above is an actual photo. The sun looked like a gleaming red eye, even though it was 4:00 p.m. The smoke billows displayed a stunning array of white plumes, black spirals, and orange columns that stretched hundreds of feet in the air carried far by the high winds.
Firefighters, water tankers, and police cars roared past me with sirens blaring and lights flashing. People in cars laden with precious belongings and loved ones were fleeing to safety. Ranchers raced to load their livestock on trailers and whisk them to safety. Several cars had pulled over to the side of the road to capture the heart-stopping images on cameras and cell phones.
In the midst of all of that I wondered: If my home lay in the path of the firestorm, what would I do? What would I choose to take with me? Several friends have had to make those decisions. A dear friend who evacuated last night turned on the news this morning from the safety of a friend's home to watch her house burn down in real time. Heart-wrenching to say the least.
But she offered the best perspective of all: hope. She had gotten out safely with her two daughters, two cats, vital documents, and suitcases of clothes. When we talked she calmly reminded me that God is our refuge and strength. Her home lies in ashes, but she and her girls are safe and looking for ways to help others. What an amazing testimony.
As I write this the wildfires continue to rage as more friends evacuate. I've opened my home to anyone needing a place to stay - for as long as they need shelter. My church is gathering supplies and donations for the evacuees and weary firefighters. We'll be in danger of continuing wildfires until God opens the floodgates of heaven with much needed rain. Please pray for that to happen soon.
As I reflect on what I have seen and heard so far, I have to ask:
What do you hold most dear? Would it fit in a suitcase?