25 years. 25 years. Is it really possible that it's been 25 years? This week marks 25 years since the shuttle Challenger blew up. But, for me, it's a week that marks something entirely different. 25 years ago life as I knew it changed forever. 25 years ago I lost my first best friend. 25 years ago fire ravaged the house behind ours in the tiny little town of Nebo, IL. That fire also took the life of my two best friends and their mother. As a 7 year-old, my world came crashing down on my head. I have no idea how my mom and dad kept us going. My older sister and I were beside ourselves. I don't even think there are words to describe the loss that we were feeling. We did everything with Georgie and Chantel. Everything! Every time the door bell rang, I just knew it was them coming to tell us it was all some big mistake. But, it was never them at the door. I spent most of my days after that sitting in my room or swinging on the swing in the back yard talking to them through holes in the clouds.
Of course, when I look back on that day 25 years ago, even through the tears, I can see God's miraculous hand and rejoice that He was with me every step. I can rejoice that He used that day, that horrible tragedy to draw me to Him in a way that nothing else could. You see, we weren't home the day of the fire. Though we rarely got vacations, because my dad was a pastor, he just happened to be at a conference so we were at our grandparent's house. We didn't have to see the fire, feel helpless to just watch, see the rescue efforts, none of that. We didn't have to see their lifeless bodies carried out on stretchers or watch the firemen as they frantically tried to save our best friends. God is good. And it was this experience that showed me I have no guarantee of tomorrow. My life could end just as quickly as Chantel's had and I knew that if it did, I was going to Hell because I had no relationship with Christ. So, that cold day in January led to a bright day in April (April 26) when I asked Christ to be my Lord and Savior. Of course, there have been days when I've paid God no attention and done what I wanted, and there have been times I have forgotten He was there to carry me through, but He has never left. The best reminder of that? When they allowed us to walk through the house after the fire (why we would even want to do that, I have no idea, but God used that, too) we saw a small picture hanging on the wall. It was strange that it was even still hanging, but that was not all. This was a picture of Christ and the two thieves on the cross at Calvary. It was a chalk drawing and the frame had no glass in it, yet, not one drop of water or even on tiny flame had touched this picture. There on the wall, hanging perfectly untouched and for all the town to see, was Christ dying on the cross for our sins. Thank you, Lord, for working in ways we cannot comprehend, good or bad, to draw us to You!