Papa cleared a large section behind the cottage so mama could plant a big garden where wonderful vegetables grow. Out back there is a barn where the family keeps a milk cow, chickens, and a horse. Papa put up a tire swing for the children to play on. He also built a play house for them.
Down the path from the cottage, if you travel about a mile, you reach a little village. This is where Mama and the children go to sell vegetables from their garden and eggs from their chickens.
The family is a very close and happy family. They work and play together. Each child has chores to do, except for the baby.
Anna, who is the eldest, helps by milking the cow every morning and evening. She makes her bed and helps Mama with the cleaning and cooking. Laura, who is next oldest, helps by gathering the eggs from the chickens. She makes her bed and helps Mary make her bed and get dressed. Mary is only two, so she doesn’t have any special chores. Both Anna and Laura help by toting water from the creek to water the garden and help Mama take care of Mary and Noah, the baby.
Papa is the village minister. That means he gives a Bible lesson at the little church every Sunday. He also takes care of the weddings and funerals. He is a kind man who helps the village folk whenever they need it. Papa also farms a clearing he made for crops of wheat. He is always busy but finds time to spend with his family.
One afternoon, coming back from the village, Mama saw some smoke rising above the mountain behind their cottage. She mentioned it to Papa when he came home for supper. Papa said he saw it too. They all prayed that night for rain to put the fire out. They hoped it had not burned much land and no homes were lost.
Papa kept watch all through the night. When morning came, they could smell the smoke. The sky was a funny color of reds and browns. The rain had not come during the night and the fire raged. They could see the flames on the top of the mountain. It was defiantly heading their way.
All day Papa, Mama, and the older girls carried water in buckets and Papa poured it first on the house, then the barn. The fire was getting closer. Soon it became apparent they could not stay there. They packed up some clothes, quilts, and food along with special things Mama had, like her trunk full of memories, into the back of the wagon.
The girls helped Papa catch the chickens and put them into a crate that he put into the wagon. He tied the cow to the back and hitched the horse to the front. Papa and Mama were very sad and quiet as they left their little cottage. Anna asked if the fire would burn their cottage. This made Laura cry. She had been watching Mama watch the fire, and she was afraid. Papa said he wasn’t sure, but they needed to trust the Lord to protect them.
When they got to the village, they discovered many people had left their homes and were taking shelter in the village. The people who lived in the village were taking in their neighbors. Papa took his family to the church to stay. There were no beds to sleep on, so Mama made beds out of the pews by adding soft quilts. Two more families came there to lodge. That evening, most of the families gathered near the church to meet and pray to the Lord for rain. As they stood there, ash blew in and landed on everything including their heads bent in prayer. The winds had kicked up. This would make the fire worse.
The parents tucked their children in for the night but didn’t sleep a wink. Anna slept next to Noah. Mary and Laura slept next to each other. Mary and Laura were both very frightened. Anna had to tell them to hush and go to sleep. The adults were outside watching and waiting.
The fire blazed and the flames were getting closer and closer. After the others were asleep, Laura couldn’t take it any longer and got up to find her parents. At first she couldn’t find them. Then she spied them at the end of the street watching. She ran to them. Papa grabbed her up in his powerful arms and tenderly held her. Mama wiped away Laura’s tears with her apron.
Papa said, “Laura, don’t cry. You are safe. We all are. The Lord will take care of us.”
Laura with her face against his shoulder said in a muffled voice, “But what about our home?”
“Laura, our cottage is nice, but it is just four walls and a roof. Our home is wherever our family is. Don’t worry. Don’t be afraid.” said, Papa.
“But you are worried; you and Mama are out here watching. Papa, you have not slept in two nights!” said Laura in a tiny voice.
Papa stood very still. Then said, “Honey, you are right. There is nothing I can do here, and I need to put all my trust in the Lord. Let’s go to sleep.” The three went back to the little church to sleep the remainder of the night.
When morning came they awoke to hard rain splashing against the windows of the little church. Everyone was cheering and jumping up and down for joy. As soon as the rain let up, the family said goodbye to Papa as he went to check on their cottage.
The barn was gone, burned by the fire, but the cottage was in good shape. Papa hurried back to get his family. When they got back, Papa started the huge task of clearing away the burned timber and going through the rubble.
In a few days, a wagon load of people showed up, followed by another, then another. The whole village and surrounding area of families had showed up for a barn raising party. They brought tools, lumber, and food. Papa and Mama were surprised and touched by the love and generosity of the people. Other people’s property was also damaged, but they all wanted to help the minister’s family first.
“Besides,” said one old gentlemen, “he is the only one who had enough faith to go to sleep that night.”
Soon the barn was up and functioning. The family said goodbye to their dear friends but not before plans were made to help the next one fix their property. It took many months for all the people to recover from the devastation of the fire. Laura learned a great lesson that night. She learned that the Lord protects those who love Him. Papa and the people’s faith grew very strong because of the fire. The people as a whole became more caring and giving toward others.
Have you ever been afraid? The Lord wants you to trust Him to get you through the difficult and frightening situation. We can all learn from Papa and completely trust God to protect and guide us.
Psalm 56:11a In God have I put my trust; I will not be afraid… 2Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 1Peter 5:7casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Psalm 4:8 I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Proverbs 3:24and 25a When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror…Psalm 91 is also very good to read when you are afraid.
Memorize: Psalm 4:8 I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Verses in NKJV unless otherwise stated.