So many emotions, thoughts and prayers ran through my mind from early yesterday morning throughout the day in reference to the devastating fires in Sevier County, Tennessee. Off-and-on I would check the news to hear the latest. Of all the reports that I heard, two have really burdened my heart.
First, as always, is the news of fatalities caused by the fires. The greatest tragedy in any event like this is the probability of some souls never have repented and turned to Christ for salvation, and therefore, of their own freewill have slipped into an eternal hell.
Second, the “this will never happen to us” or “that’s too far away to reach us” or “we’ll be okay” mentalities. Folks, let’s face it, we are too comfortable in America. We are almost convinced we are invincible. The fires had been burning ten miles south of Gatlinburg, but due to the ferocious winds and change in humidity, these fires quickly got out of control. Read the following:
“This is a fire for the history books because it is unlike anything most have ever seen,” Gatlinburg Fire Chief Greg Miller said at a press conference Tuesday morning.
The fire had been going in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Then the humidity dropped ahead of a storm front. Wind speed picked up and the direction shifted, catching firefighters off guard.
Then around 6 p.m., the wind speeds doubled, Miller said.
“There were times last night where we had wind gusts in excess of 87 miles an hour. That is hurricane force. That is nowhere to be when trying to fight a fire,” Miller said.
Embers blew as far as a mile away, sparking new fires.
“At the same time we were facing that challenge, those high winds were knocking down trees. Those trees were hitting power lines and they were falling on this very dry, extreme drought-like condition, and everything was catching on fire.”
The National Park Service says they — too — were blindsided by the winds but that they were still dropping water on the Chimney Top Fire as late as Sunday.
As I listened to the news coming out of an area that is very dear to us, my heart sank. For days folks knew of the fires around them. How sad when I heard one man say, “We were not warned!”
In another report, a couple from South Carolina came on Saturday for their vacation. They said, “We saw the smoke, and knew of the fires, but we came anyway.” Monday night, they barely escaped with their lives as the flames licked its way up to their cabin destroying it and their belongings.
My heart is further saddened because thousands upon thousands of people respond in the same way to the declarations of “You must be born again” (John 3), and “Christ is coming soon” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), and “Prepare for eternity” (Hebrews 9:27)!
My friends, the ABSOLUTE, MOST IMPORTANT decision you must make in this life is the answer to this question, “Where will you spend eternity?”
The answer to that question is predicated on your response to this question, “What will you do with Jesus?” God so loved you that He sent His only begotten (only one like Him) Son to die for you (John 3:16), to take your place on the cross to pay your sin debt (Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 2:24) and to make you righteousness in the sight of God (Romans 3:21-26). The only way to God and to Heaven is through the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Ephesians 1:3-7). In other words, Jesus took my sins to the cross so God could take me to heaven.
In closing, please do not hesitate one second to turn to Christ for eternal life, eternal salvation. Just like these fires, which came swiftly and quickly, Jesus is coming soon. Death is just one breath away. Don’t be numb to the truth, my friend. Are you listening? Are you prepared?
For more information, see What the Bible Says About Hell