By Amelia Krauss
I remember coming home from work one day this summer feeling frantic as I watched a growing plume of smoke and ash eclipse the afternoon sun. The air was thick and heavy, burning my lungs and stinging my eyes.
The surroundings that had become so familiar to me while living in Colorado Springs for the summer were cast in an eerie orange glow. Ash rained down on the foothills just miles from where I was, and tears welled in my eyes as I watched flames consume the mountains.
By the time I arrived home that afternoon, darkness had engulfed the city.
I was coming home from my internship at Compassion International, a child sponsorship organization, where I spent nine hours each day devoted to its Christ-centered mission to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.
Each day was filled with hope for a new generation of children who are growing up hearing the Gospel and being freed from the chains of poverty. But when I came home that fateful Tuesday afternoon, all I could think about was the destruction the Waldo Canyon Fire was leaving in its wake.
All the hopeful thoughts of helping children in need were erased when I heard the news that the fire had roared down the mountains and into local neighborhoods.
As I prepared for possible evacuation orders, my predominant thought was, “What stuff do I need to pack?”
When I began to grieve over the possibility of losing the cute work clothes I had bought for my summer job and how much money it would cost to replace them, I realized how disordered my priorities really were.
I was working for an organization devoted to serving children who live in extreme poverty, yet it took a massive fire to open my eyes to my own idolatry.
That day, I came to a life-changing realization. I was living in a state of self-sufficiency, storing up earthly treasures that moth and rust and fire destroy. I was putting my security in the things of this world rather than confidently trusting the one who holds all things securely in his hands.
But I am not alone. In many ways, I think this attachment to the securities and things of this world is a deadly epidemic in the American church.
In comparison to the impoverished children I served this summer, the majority of Americans are rich beyond measure. For many of us, this wealth has become our beloved safety net.
The more our bank accounts grow, the more secure we feel. We are financially savvy, developing our savings accounts, accruing good credit, investing in reliable retirement plans and piling up possessions we don’t need.
None of these things is inherently bad, but they have become the god we trust. And rather than giving our first fruits to our Provider and pouring ourselves out for others, we give our leftovers, those things we don’t mind losing.
We are a church of little faith, because with all our possessions and plans in which we find our security, we really don’t need faith at all. But without faith, it is impossible to please God.
The American church, me included, has stored up for itself many treasures on earth, forgetting to truly trust, honor and stand in awe of the creator and sustainer of all things.
As I looked out my window that Tuesday night and watched from afar the flashing orange glow of a raging fire, I realized exactly why we should not invest in worldly things that can be destroyed in the blink of an eye. I realized how important it is to step out in faith and give of ourselves for the sake of others.
I realized how vital it is to give until it hurts, to give so much it requires faith in a God who is bigger than our bank accounts. I realized that this life is not about building our own earthly kingdoms that are here today and gone tomorrow but about seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness.
That fateful night, I drifted off to sleep with the words of Hebrews 12 fresh on my mind: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’”