Burning Down the House

fire house

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us…So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:6, 7, 18

Some friends were sitting around chatting and enjoying each other’s company. Then someone asked this question: if your house was on fire, what is one thing you would not want to leave behind? This question became the spring board for the website, The Burning House[1].

At The Burning House, people send their photos of the items they would be found clutching as they fled their home. They are creatively arranged and photographed. Then they are placed on display for the world to see.

Now sensibility and your local fire fighter will tell you to exit your home as quickly as possible. You are not to reenter the blaze to fetch your child’s doll, your wedding album, or great Aunt Martha’s heirloom clock. We all understand the most prized possessions in life are usually not things. Instead, your precious treasures are people and memories and accomplishments.

However, these abstract treasures are often represented by tangible objects. Your wedding ring reminds you of the sacredness of your marriage. A baby blanket brings floods of memories of rocking your children. Trophies line your shelves paying homage to a job well done. These are markers or symbols and they define you, shape you, and tell your story.

I know what treasures I would save. I didn’t even have to think about it for very long. I would slip my wedding ring on my finger. My husband and I are celebrating 22 years of wedded bliss, give or take a little bliss. There is a cardigan sweater hanging on my door that is worn and stained. But my daughter wore it to bed every night when I couldn’t tuck her in. I still have a Superman action figure in my hope chest. It was my son’s favorite toy, and we would play superheroes every day. My camera would be on that list too. I was a wedding photographer for ten years, and it was my mission to pray for every couple along the way. I have a Bible that was given to me when I was ordained. It has served me in the pulpit ever since. One of the last items I would clutch tightly would be my ordination credentials. They are hanging in my office above my desk, and they remind me that my call to serve God is a privilege, not a right.

What about you? What items tell the tale of who you are? What are the symbols that represent the inner you? Think about it. Take a photo. Send it to someone. Send it to me.

We are jars of clay. Jars of clay were used for every day, common purpose. They were not intended for special purposes. Yet, those who are in Christ are more than jars of clay. You are intended for noble purposes. You have the light of God shining in your heart. You are God’s craftsmanship on display for the world to see. You are special and your story is unique. So what would you take with you if your house was on fire?

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