The Fire--by Kimberly B. Southall

It was a clear, crisp Autumn morning. The cool air refreshed her as she walked leisurely down the sidewalk toward her parents' house. As a newlywed, she and her husband had moved into a house just a few blocks from her childhood home. Since her husband had to work on this Saturday, she planned to surprise her parents, brother, and sister with an impromptu visit. Besides, she wasn't entirely used to being away from "home" all the time, yet.

As she approached her family's home, she thought she caught a whiff of smoke in the air. "A neighbor must have already started using their fireplace," she concluded casually to herself. Her thoughts wandered to what her mother might be fixing for breakfast . . . bacon and eggs, or sausage and biscuits, or maybe pancakes, since it was Saturday. Her mouth watered at the thought.

As she approached the white picket fence of home and opened the gate, she noted that the scent of smoke was much stronger than before. Strange. She took a look at the house and noticed a curl of smoke rising above the ridge of the roof. Alarm registered in her mind–her parents' house didn't have a fireplace. Closer inspection indicated an eery orange glow in one of the upstairs windows. The house was on fire!

She raced up the sidewalk and grabbed the front doorknob. It wouldn't budge as she frantically tried to twist it–it was locked. She pounded on the door, screaming for her family to wake up. "Fire! Fire!" she shouted as her fists pummeled the door. Her mind raced and her feet followed suit as she hurried to the back door of the house. It, too, was locked. She fruitlessly dug in her pockets hoping she had remembered to bring the key to her family's home, knowing all the while that she hadn't. Her fingers closed around an object that might help, though. She whipped out her cell phone and dialed her parents' phone number as fast as her fingers could manage. She desperately prayed for her family to be safe as she waited for someone inside to answer . . . one ring . . . (God, hurry and wake them up.) . . . two rings . . . (Come on! Make them answer the phone!) . . . three rings . . .(Please, Lord, save them!) . . . four rings . . . Her heart sunk as the answering machine picked up.

In frustration she hurled the useless cell phone to the ground and looked upward to discovered flames now licking through the roof. What was she going to do? She needed help. Immediately sorry she had thrown her cell phone down, she retrieved it from the cold ground and quickly punched 9-1-1. She reported the emergency and the address to the dispatcher and stuffed the phone back in her pocket as her mind searched for a solution. She ran to the front door and again pounded and yelled for her family to wake up.

A sleepy neighbor who had come out to get his newspaper quizzically looked at her then looked up with horror dawning on his face.

"Help me! My family is in there! The doors are locked. I can't get in, and they won't wake up!" she cried. The neighbor opened his door and yelled for his wife to call 9-1-1 before he raced over to help. He tried to force the door open with his shoulder and every bit of strength he had, but it stubbornly remained closed. Not knowing what else to do, he grabbed one of the heavy iron patio chairs and heaved it through the big bay window on the ground floor. Choking smoke and an intense heat poured out, making entrance through the broken window impossible.

She heard sirens approaching but realized that help had come too late. No one could survive that heat and smoke this long. The horror of it overwhelmed her as she sank to the ground and sobbed in grief. Her entire family had died while she tried in vain to save them.

This story is heartbreaking, indeed, isn't it? While it is a work of fiction, there's more truth in it than you may realize. Are you destined to be like that father, mother, brother, or sister who dies in the fire while your loved one tries so desperately to reach you and save you? Is your loved one destined to live with a broken heart as they watch you die no matter how hard or how many ways they try to save you? I speak not of a house fire but of the eternal fire of hell.

Jude 1:23Have you rejected the gospel message a loved one has shared with you? Have you ignored or chosen to delay obeying the biblical plan of salvation which someone has shown to you? Have you thought about why they tell you about Jesus and what you need to do to be saved? They are trying to snatch you from the fires of hell. They love you enough to try to reach you while you are in peril of facing the fires of hell forever and ever. Will you wake up and heed the warning? Or will you sleep through all the warnings until your demise?

You don't need to wait one moment longer. Here's the solution to the problem. Here's how you can escape a fiery eternity:

Please wake up and escape the fire before it's too late.

Copyright © 2003 Kimberly B. Southall. All rights reserved.