By Rachel Brand*

“I’m hungry; are you?”

"Yes! Starving!” came my husband’s quick answer. “I bet the refrigerator still has food in it! What do you think?”

“It’s insulated!!”

“Yeah, yeah, let’s look,” we decided.

Only 24 hours before, we had a normal life. We were heading out for a beautiful November hike to shoot pictures of fall colors and breathe some fresh air! During a quick stop at an outdoor store to try on some new hiking boots, my husband’s cell phone rang.

That phone call was a turning point for us.

It was our security system, ADT. They said alarms were going off at our house. Our house might be on FIRE!!? What!?

We dashed from the store and immediately drove home. Well, what used to be our home. By the time we arrived home - it was for all practical purposes - gone.

There were emergency vehicles surrounding our place at the end of a long driveway and we could not even get in except for hiking into our own long driveway on foot - only to watch the last remains of our life melting away. What a surreal sight it was!

But now, it was the morning after our house had burned. We hadn’t really eaten anything since the morning before that - about 24 hours! Food had been the last priority for either of us as we battled with the reality of unexpected loss and we were both outrageously hungry!

As the fire had progressed the night before, we watched brave firemen rip out all the insulation and soak the place for what seemed like an eternity.

The fire was declared officially ‘out’.

Before they left, they carefully placed fire alarms in the blackened mush to assure that if the fire started back up again the firemen would know to respond. We were told explicitly not to enter the premises, even though we would be tempted to do so. Clearly the event was over. No alarms had gone off thru the night. Besides, a whole night of pouring November rain had given the site an extra dousing.

We had slept in our hiking clothes in a near-by travel trailer on the neighbor’s property. As I reached for my Raichle hiking boots that morning, I mused, that I had two different socks on! Apparently, I had accidentally stolen one thick hiking sock from the recreational store.

I had bought new laces, but hadn’t finished tying my boots upon leaving the  store and I still didn’t tie my boots this particular morning. I just pulled them on and traipsed down the rutted muddy driveway towards what had formerly been my home.

More specifically, towards that gleaming white standing-tall wonderful refrigerator that contained nourishment. My mind was busy with a mental inventory of what food it must still contain: cheese, eggs, bread? I couldn’t wait! I was so hungry!

My husband went ahead of me down the same driveway and disappeared. I didn’t know exactly where he went, but I was determined to get food and make it into something wonderful for breakfast!! I figured we’d meet at the refrigerator. I was delighted to see it still standing! Cool!

As I was hurriedly mucking down the wet driveway a recurring thought kept nagging me. “Tie your boot laces.”

I argued with myself ‘Oh, honestly, the strings were already muddy. Why tie them?’ “Tie your boot laces.” Oh brother! I stopped and looked around. There was no good place to kneel except for the rocky muddy road and I didn’t want to get any dirtier. So I ignored the prompting and continued to walk. “Tie your boot laces!”

Okay, now l was getting annoyed at myself! I was hungry!! The bootlaces could wait!! Good grief! “Tie your bootlaces.” Okay, Okay... I thought to myself ‘I will tie my bootlaces!’

I bent down to wrap them around my leg and make a knot, when my mother’s words popped into my head, “Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.” Oh brother!

Exasperated at my hunger level and obvious heavy parental programming I turned around in anger against all instincts and walked a quarter of a mile backwards away from my intended destination to sit on a rock and lace up those boots correctly.
It took a few minutes - but there! It was done! I thought to myself that it did feel better. I now felt at ease.

I began to walk back to the blackened house again, this time even quicker with no laces flying around to distract me. I was almost at the edge of the house when....

R-I-P! A crack of thunder completely startled me.

It was so loud, and there was a shock wave following that almost knocked me over! To my amazement, right before my very eyes, the entire house burst into instant flames!! The drenched sooty remains of a house standing before me instantly blew up! It was just like Elijah’s Mt. Carmel story!! I’d never seen anything like it!! How could a completely soaked house instantly get consumed? It seemed impossible!

The pillar of black smoke was over 200 feet in the air. I ran screaming!! Where was my husband? I thought he was already somewhere in the house. I had been delayed because of the nuisance boot laces, but he hadn’t! Suddenly I saw him.

He was standing on the other side of the house with a garden hose in his hand. At the last minute, he thought about connecting garden hoses in case there was more fire.

Due to silly unnecessary last-minute thoughts, each of us had been distracted. And neither of us was standing by a refrigerator in the middle of the fire. We were unharmed. Unbelievable!

There is no doubt in my mind today that the Holy Spirit was telling me to tie my bootlaces! The prompting was so strong and so repetitious! I was stubbornly fighting it, due to appetite, but I obeyed.

I have thanked God over and over for saving my life and my husband’s life that day. We would have been ‘toast,’ indeed. Listen to the still small voice of God. You never know when it is your last chance to do as you are told.

1 Kings 19:12

And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

*Rachel Brand is a pen name. The author asked for her real name to not be published.