Some of my family and I were hiking behind our Iowa home. As we gazed in awe at the sights and sounds, we noticed a small gray haze lifting up from just behind our house. It spiraled toward the sky and grew larger. Fear gripped our hearts. We knew what this meant: Fire! We broke into a frantic run toward home.
As we ran up to the cabin, our sons were already fearlessly shoveling dirt on the yellow-orange flames consuming the dried prairie in leaps and bounds. I was appalled by the speed of the fire. The fire was racing away from our house, but directly toward a neighbor’s home. How can we get this fire stopped? I thought. I felt hopelessness grip me. Smoke filled the air and clouded my thinking. Just then my jacket, which had been tied around my waist, fell off, giving me an idea.
“Mary!” I yelled to my daughter, “get that pink blanket off your bed.” I grabbed a dishpan filled it with water. Fire was expanding like spokes on a wheel. I told Mary to dip the blanket in the dishpan and stay close to me, but not too close. For many minutes this was my corner of my world. I beat those menacing flames for all I was worth. The blanket seemed to be working as I hurriedly followed the outer edge of the fire. Flames leaped at me, threatening to engulf me. I just kept throwing that blanket in the direction of the flames in defiance. The smoke made breathing unbearable.
In all the confusion the thought came to me: If God could calm the Sea of Galilee for His disciples, He could stop this fire. “Jesus,” I prayed, “You calmed the Sea of Galilee; please stop this fire!”
Shortly, as my eyes followed the edge of the flames I was battling, I saw only blackness where someone else had already put out the fire. My gaze widened as I realized my area was no longer burning. I had no idea how long I beat at those relentless flames; this was the first pause I had taken.
I looked up to see how the rest of the fire was progressing. To my astonishment it was out. All I saw was a huge area of blackness covering the ravine, up to the top of the next hill. As I struggled to get my breath, I noticed 15 or 20 people stood around the black edges where the fire had been.
I spied my boys, my husband, and a friend. A sea of blackness stood between us. We all wandered, exhausted, toward each other. Our friend licked his finger and held it up asking, “How often does the wind just totally cease in these mountains? There’s absolutely no wind! The fire just stayed in place as it reached the top of that hill. It’s like an invisible hand kept it there until everyone was able to put out their area of flames.” He told us he prayed for the wind to cease. My son, Peter, knowing there weren’t enough people living nearby to help, prayed for God to send helpers. We looked in wonder at the strangers gathered—some on horseback.
I told them how I prayed for God to stop the fire completely. We all said our prayers of gratitude to our Father in heaven. Our home was safe; so was the neighbor’s. God gave us the courage and strength to do what we could. And He sent help too. His awesome grace and power is imprinted on our memories.
—This story is based on Margaret Butler’s original article appearing on pages 12-13 in the May 24, 2012, Adventist Review.
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