God answers prayers before we know to ask of Him. That’s what happened to us one fearful day.
It didn’t start out fearfully. It was a normal day for Charles at Cairo Animal Hospital and for me finishing a chapter in the book I was writing. It was a regular school day for our two boys. Our grandson, Charles Douglas (I call him Charles D), lived with us then and his friend, Jesse, was spending a couple of weeks with us while his parents were out of town. Charles D’s room was upstairs, a room we’d restored to reveal hand hewn logs of our pre-Civil War house. Jesse’s was across the hall adjacent to attic space above our dining room.
I looked out at our beautiful sunny back yard as I considered the story I was writing. Then I glanced at the time, 11:30. Where had the morning gone? But Charles wouldn’t be home for almost an hour. I could finish this chapter, I thought, and be done in time to prepare him a nice lunch. I dived back into my story, lost to everything else.
The sound of Charles’s truck pulling into the carport startled me. He was never home before 12:15, most often 12:30 or after. And here it was only 11:55.
I scurried to the kitchen to slap sandwiches together thinking he must have an after-lunch appointment so I’d better be quick. But he shrugged when I asked why he was home so early. He didn’t know. It just worked out that way, he said.
We were about to sit down at the dining table when I said something smelled peculiar. Charles, humoring my sensitivity to smells, said he’d go check outside. He was sure neighbors must be burning trash.
Charles rushed back in and headed for the stairs. Smoke was billowing from every vent in our roof, he said. I called 911.
By the time firemen arrived, there was a glowing ceiling tile above where I would have been sitting, and as they sawed into the ceiling (this was a solid old house with thick boards above the celo-tex) to get to the fire, flames licked out. Outside, standing with neighbors, family, even our pastor, who had come to see about us, we watched fearfully as our house was invaded by flames, smoke, and lots of water from the firemen’s hose.
But our house was saved!
Though our recent renovation of the downstairs–new carpet, drapes and painted walls–was all ruined, our house was intact. The firemen said the fire started because of faulty wiring. It had probably been a hazard for several weeks, could have started anytime–while we were asleep, while Jesse was asleep in that room only feet away from the flames. One fireman told us that within thirty more minutes the fire would have engulfed our old house and been impossible to squelch. That’s when I understood why Charles had come home early. God knew we needed to come to our table at that exact time.
As the four of us huddled in a motel room that night we were very thankful we were all safe and our house could be cleaned and repaired. The only complaint the boys had was that they’d been at school and missed all the excitement.