Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
January 16, 2011
Still thankful for God's mercy 30
On a cold day in January in 1981 the phone ringing woke me up.
When I said hello I heard the shocking voice of our son Tim blurting out the words,
"Dad, my apartment burned up; my car burned up. I lost everything but my
shorts! I am lucky to be alive!" A college student, Tim was two hours
away; I told him we would be there in two hours.
My wife and I jumped in our car and drove as fast as possible to
Monroeville, Alabama. Numb and blinded by tears of gratitude that our son had
been spared from certain death, we soon witnessed the smoldering remains of
Tim's apartment and his beloved Mustang. He had indeed nothing left but the
shorts he had been sleeping in. A kind neighbor had loaned him a jacket and a
pair of jeans that were two sizes too small.
Tim described what had happened. He was awakened by a hissing
sound. Looking around he figured the sound was coming from the gas space heater
in the room. Afraid something was wrong, he turned toward the door just as the
room exploded, blowing the door out into the yard where it quickly set his car
The blast had propelled him toward the doorway, knocking him to
the floor. He managed to crawl out, unable to take anything with him. The blazing
fire made it impossible to go back inside and retrieve any of his stuff. The
hair on the back of his head was singed by the fire but miraculously he was not
injured. We thought of John Wesley; our son Tim was another "brand plucked
from the burning," a phrase Susannah Wesley used to describe her son John's
rescue from the burning parsonage at Epworth, England.
Aware that none of his earthly goods could be salvaged, we
bought Tim a supply of new clothes and basic supplies at Wal-Mart and found him
another apartment. Without a car, and without any of his prized possessions, he
continued his forestry studies at the Junior College. We drove back home to Montgomery, my wife in shock that I would leave our son
there instead of taking him back home with us. Years later Tim would say that
losing everything was one of the best things that ever happened to him; in a
moment of time he discovered what really matters in life.
A few days ago Tim send me this
"Dad, 30 years have passed since the apartment burned. I was thinking again this morning about the words I spoke to you ‘Dad, I’m lucky to be alive.’ Over the years I have realized a better way to state that would be ‘I’m blessed to be alive.’ I was saved for a purpose and I need to listen to his voice to make sure I know what the purpose is and fulfill it."
Mom and I are so thankful to God for sparing Tim's life, but
even more thankful that this frightening experience inspired him to realize that
he was "saved for a purpose," and that it was not “luck” that spared
his life. His life, be believes, is a blessing from God.
Tim went on a few years later to graduate in forestry from
Auburn University. He has become a respected forester who serves the Lord daily
as he works with people and trees. We admire the man, the husband and the
father that he has become. We are so grateful to God for making possible Tim’s
miraculous escape from a fiery death that cold morning in January.
Each of us is alive for a divine purpose. Like Tim we need to
"listen" to God's voice and do our best to fulfill the purpose for
which we have been given life. We don't have to lose everything to become aware
that God has a purpose for each of our lives. But we must be willing to listen
and obey to fulfill God's destiny for our lives. Life is a precious gift, so
precious that we should do our best to use it for the purpose God intended. + +