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Hope Through the Flame: Facing the Southern California Fires

By December 14, 2017Culture3 min read

The Thomas Fire has been roaring to life in the hills near Santa Paula. High winds drove it relentlessly toward Ventura where it burned hundreds of homes, including three of our members and many friends. The faith of our members is a beauty to behold. All three families were in service Sunday and gave testimony to God’s sustaining grace.

We’ve already heard dozens of stories of small ways God has evidenced His mercy amid tragic loss.

The months to come will reveal more. But something became clear yesterday as I listened to the stories of those who lost their homes. It marks a major advantage the spirit-filled follower of Jesus possesses. It’s this: When we’re walking in the Spirit, our thoughts are directed to consider things we’ll soon face. I’ll share one example to illustrate this.

One of the ladies who lost her home is a mature saint who’s been instrumental in the lives of dozens of others. She’s respected by her peers as a source of tremendous spiritual wisdom and is a mentor to many younger women. She’s been asked to step in to relational crisis situations and has been instrumental in bringing redemption in bleak circumstances. Having a regular time of focused devotion to the spiritual disciplines of reading and prayer is a part of her routine, not out of duty, but because she loves to nurture her relationship with Jesus. When it comes to her walk with God, she’s the “real-deal” as they say. So it’s no surprise that instead of falling apart at the loss of her home, she’s confident it’s all going to be okay, and that ultimately, God is going to redeem the loss.

Three weeks ago, as she was investing in her relationship with God, meditating on Him, letting the Spirit direct her thoughts, she pondered the question of what items she’d need to secure if a fire ever threatened their house. She settled on a few items before her thoughts turned to something else. A week ago, all that bore fruit when the Thomas Fire took their home. They had little time to either make a plan or carry it out. Had she not already considered what items had priority, they’d have been lost.

What gleaned from her story is this . . .

We don’t know the future, but our God does.

He knows what’s coming. As the believer meditates and prays, the Holy Spirit is freer to direct our thoughts into paths that will prepare us for what’s coming. We don’t have to wait to be in the teeth of a crisis to know what to do. The Spirit can counsel us ahead of time on the course to take, what decisions to make. It’s unlikely such thoughts will occur to us if we neglect time to prayerfully seek God’s wisdom or if the world’s ways have eclipsed the Spirit.

Take advantage of this most precious resource, the Spirit’s directing of your thoughts toward the challenges before you.

Lance Ralston is the founding and lead pastor of Calvary Chapel Oxnard and provides content for Check out his YouTube channel,, for Church History, Leadership, and Bible commentary, as well as the popular podcast series “History of the Christian Church” on Apple Podcasts.