The One Thing I Would Save If My House Was On Fire

It annoys me when someone at a party or in a classroom or at a staff meeting poses this hypothetical question:

 “If your house was on fire and you could only grab one thing – what would it be?”

Usually, they issue some further hypothetical parameters like “all the people and animals have already gotten out” or something like that.

Frankly, it’s a stupid question.

From now on, I’m going to start giving answers like “my deep-fryer” (that one for YMCA staff trainings) or “a framed napkin that was once used by Richard Nixon” (this for public classrooms) or “my lucky tube socks” (this for Christian settings), just to see if anyone will challenge me.

The question is supposed to reveal what we value most.

Invariably, people say things like “my photos”, which sounds like you value your loved ones and your memories and I suppose it makes sense (I like my photos). But it’s sort of a logistical nightmare to imagine running all over this burning house collecting pictures from everywhere unless you’ve planned ahead and have a special easy carry vault of “in case of fire” photos.

Then, in Christian circles, you’ll always hear someone answer – “my Bible” – because that sounds super-spiritual, like what you really value is Jesus.

But, again, it’s not like Jesus is actually physically IN your Bible and I don’t care how many notes you’ve written in the margins or passages you’ve highlighted, unless all of America is on fire – you can get another Bible the next day. (And, if you really value God’s word, don’t you have most of it memorized anyway, Mr.?)

(Just a note: I’m terrible at Bible memorization so I would totally fail if tested on that one – it’s just a fun way to mess with someone who answers Bible to this question at a party. Not particularly kind but pretty fun.)

My real answer is that I’d probably grab the life insurance policy I have on my husband because once all the people were out safe, he’d make repeated trips back inside to save the hundreds of pieces of wood he’s collected that one day he’s going to use to make something really cool. (I know, honey, you do make really cool things).

Anyway, I know this last minute “stuff will burn” or “life or death” choices is supposed to be what reveals our deepest values but I don’t believe that it does. I think we reveal our deepest values by the choices we make every day.

The record of our values is in our day planners, on our refrigerator calendars, our phone records, our credit card bills, our checking account statements, our Netflix queues, our status updates, our tweets and our texts.

Most of us will not be called to make “Sophie’s choice” either in the midst of war or burning homes. But every day, we who are citizens of the Kingdom of God, are called to make choices that show the world we live by other rules and according to a higher purpose.

Am I a radical Christian because I would choose to save my Bible from my burning home or am I a radical Christian because I don’t pursue selfish ambitions or worry about tomorrow or am willing to lay down my daily agenda to serve the needs of another? That question isn’t a fun one to throw out at parties because the Kingdom of God is not a party game – it’s a calling, a movement, a counter-culture, an underground resistance in a cosmic war.

When Jesus sent his followers out with the power to heal, to cast out demons and to preach the Kingdom of God, He told them this: ““Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.” (Luke 9:3)

Take nothing for the journey. Travel light. Depend solely on the power of Jesus Christ. Rely completely on Him for protection, for support, for food, for shelter, for clothing, for warmth, for supplies.

The fact is, the house in which we live IS on fire and we DON’T have much time and the decision of what we choose to save DOES reveal what we truly value.

 What are you trying to save from the fire?

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    The Conversation

  1. Jennifer says:

    Thanks Lori – let me check that calender…

  2. Karin says:

    When Jesus sent his followers out with the power to heal, to cast out demons and to preach the Kingdom of God, He told them this: ““Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.” (Luke 9:3) Perhaps because we have not/are not doing this, the power to heal, to cast out demons and to preach the Kingdom of God is not seen to the glory of God. Not sure if I said that right……We’re often ineffective because we are so busy with ‘things’.
    Very challenging post! Thank you!

  3. Excellent post…Loved the statement that what we value is made in our daily choices. So true! I just love your blog, I always come away challenged and blessed.

  4. Carmen says:

    Well…the last time there was a fire in a house next to the complex we lived in, my husband and the kids all ran out of the house once the neighbours rang our doorbell. I looked for my clothes, and then turned circles a number of times, walked up and down the hall wondering what to do. In my defense, it was the middle of the night.Finally I decided I’d better get out of the house. So the answer to that question is…nothing. 🙂

    PS: the fire didn’t spread and we were fine.

  5. A worthy insight to consider, Karin!

  6. Colleen, your words are a great encouragement to me. Thank you for your kindness!

  7. Carmen, Glad you’re all fine.

  8. Uh, I do have to confess, I have a running fire drill in my mind and one of the things I’d grab would be the disk with my BOOK! Edit, yes, rewrite–no!