I had underestimated the fire. I thought I could walk through the house unscathed. I thought I could confidently waltz in to simply open windows - get the smoke out before things got too bad. They had already gone in with the fire extinguishers. I thought things would be ok now. But as the smoke filled my lungs and my eyes, I knew that even this small task was far too big for me. It was already past the point of bad. This was a full on emergency. I was glad I had already called 911. This fire was out of control - too much for us to handle ourselves. I stubbornly opened two windows, fixated on doing something to help. But that was my limit. If I stayed in the house any longer, that smoke was going to consume me.
Even after fleeing the source of the smoke, it stayed with me - in my hair, on my hands. It was like it had become part of me. All I wanted to do was remove any reminder of this smoke from my body - wash my hands immediately. I couldn't stand to look at these hands that were so covered in filth and yet, I couldn't look away. This thing that was destroying my house was on me - threatening to destroy me too. And that was more than I could handle. All I wanted was to rid myself of this horrible black film...but I couldn't. It wouldn't make it go away. This burning house was not just a nightmare; it was my reality. All I could do was just stand and watch helplessly.
Even days later, I keep replaying everything in my mind. The smell of smoke and the soot that covers everything I own has been too much to bear. I think subconsciously it reminds me of something else - sin. If I'm honest, I know I can't save myself from the blackness that has covered me due to my own disobedience to a loving Father. It has rendered me absolutely stained in every way, and there's nothing that I can do about it in my own power (Jeremiah 2:22). It permeates every aspect of my being. It's not just outside of me, but in me, part of me. It consumes and spreads, bringing destruction. It's ugly, it's devastating, and it deserves God's wrath as a punishment (Romans 1:18).
But unlike me, Jesus did not underestimate the fire of God's wrath. He knew what He was getting into when He walked into the smoke filled house of my sin and faced God's wrath against it. His soul was troubled unto death as He thought about facing it, but He set His eyes on completing the mission His Father had given Him (Matthew 26:38-39). He was going to save the world. The black soot of sin covered not only His hands, but His entire being, as He who never knew sin, became sin in our place (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Father's anger toward our transgressions burned hot and fierce upon Jesus, who became our substitute. And though the cross was too much for anyone to bear, He stayed. That was the price our sins demanded. He could have called His rescue squad of angels to intervene. But He didn't. Jesus didn't wash His hands of the soot of my sin - instead, He carried it through the flames of God's judgement - the judgement that should have been mine. He died - covered by the blackness of my sin - so that I could be clean.
What I faced on Monday was terrifying, but what Jesus faced was a thousand times worse. And that makes me thankful that He knows what I'm going through and has made sure that I will never have to experience the full extent of the terrors my encounter only pointed to. The victory of His resurrection means that He not only conquered the blackness of sin with His perfection, but He has offered to let me have His spotless robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).
God spared our lives and the house on Monday. There's plenty to struggle through in the aftermath. It can feel overwhelming at times, but Jesus has dealt with the scariest part of all. He hasn't just cleansed my hands but my blackened soul has been washed white. I might not have been able to escape this house fire completely untouched, but in His grace, Jesus has completely shielded me from the fiery wrath I deserve. I was helpless to remove the blackness of my sin, but He has washed me clean. That is surely a reason to rejoice.
Loving Him is Red!