Perhaps you saw this photo recently in the LA Times.
It’s the sort of photo you’re bound to notice. You can’t help but notice it. Brian Williams did. Or at least someone on his staff at NBC Nightly News did. In any case they did a three-minute segment on these firefighters.
Here’s the background: Twelve firefighters were on a hillside trying to keep the Santiago fire from jumping the road and destroying some homes. Without warning, the winds shifted and sent the flames their way. Seeing that they had no escape route available, they removed their “shelters” from their packs and curled up underneath them—cocoon style—while they waited for help. And waited. With no help coming, they huddled together under those shelters, taking short breaths and enduring untold heat in a quest to survive. Finally, after 15 interminable minutes, aircraft arrived, dumped water on the flames, and freed the men. Not one was injured.
It’s a frightening tale made more frightening when you learn that one of those twelve is your friend. Brett Cowdell was among those on the hillside that day. Brett used to be my eldest son’s scoutmaster. Our youngest sons were born within a couple of weeks of each other. He and I were even co-workers before he entered the fire academy. When I saw his wife yesterday, I felt a surge of emotion, so grateful was I that he had been protected when the fires raged his way.
That image—of a good friend, nearly helpless in the face of mounting peril—brought to mind the promise contained within one of Jesus’s saddest laments: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, . . . how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37). The Lord’s message to all of us is that He offers shelter from the trials which so often rage against us, provided only that we come unto Him. He doesn’t promise to take away adversity, of course; rather he offers to gather and shield us so that we can come through difficulty relatively unscathed. Having personally felt the protection of such shelter, the Psalmist wrote:
Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. (Psalms 61:1-4)
I hope that you and your loved ones are all OK in spite of the danger which surrounds us. And I remind you that help is always near at hand.