It was desperately cold outside. We were under siege by “Old Man Winter.” As young high school students, my brother and I recognized the need in our community for firewood. With an opportunity to make some quick cash, we powered up the chainsaw and started slaying fallen trees. By the end of the day, we weren’t rich, but we were definitely seeing the green.
My brother always had a sweet tooth. On the way home, we stopped by the grocery store to raid the Brach’s candy bin. We stuffed our mouths with dark-chocolate morsels. These were the fruits of our labor. We smiled as the chocolate covered our teeth.
Back at home, a cozy, crackling fireplace greeted us. We kicked off our boots and thawed from the bitter cold. As we turned our backs to the fire, my brother threw his remaining candy wrappers into the flames. Scaring me half to death, he jumped to his feet. “Oh no!” he said. “Hand me the stoking fork!”
Not sure what was happening I immediately obeyed. I assumed a hot coal popped from the embers and rolled down the back of his pants. But then again, a stoking fork would have been of little use.
The reason for his panic soon became crystal clear. In a rush to regain his body heat, my brother had not only thrown his candy wrappers into the fire, he also threw a wad of cash into the fiery flames.
The wrappers were instantly vaporized. But like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, it looked as though the cash may have survived. Realizing time was not on his side, my brother screamed for the stoking fork in an effort to rescue his full day’s wage.
I watched with great anticipation as he plunged the stoking fork into the flames. A $20 bill appeared to have survived the gates of Hell as it rested casually on top of the log pile. The instant the fork touched the greenback it went up in smoke!
At first my mouth dropped open wide, and then I struggled not to laugh. I was sympathetic, but momma didn’t raise two fools! Sorry, no consolation prize. My cash is staying safe in my pocket where it belongs!
Thinking back on that experience I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 3:11-15. “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”
There will come a day when the Lord will test the quality of our work. Left to ourselves, we will no doubt face the flames, but as we rest in the arms of our sweet Savior, we will survive.