What we learned when we lost everything

Meredith Flynn —  January 29, 2015


Bob_Elmore_blog_calloutWaking up to the sound of a high-pitched alarm is never a good start to a day. But this morning in April 2012 started just that way. It had been a stormy night, so I initially thought it was the weather alert radio and I mentally prepared to get my family down to the basement—not an easy task, since we have two sons with profound autism who strongly resist any changes to their routines.

I groggily opened my eyes and remembered I had been sleeping on the couch in the living room with my wife and son, Mark, who has epilepsy in addition to autism. He had a seizure that night, so we had been keeping watch over him as he slept on the floor. I looked around at our dark house and saw an odd orange glow coming from Mark’s room. The shrill alarm I heard was our smoke alarm. Mark’s room was on fire!

I woke up my wife and we got our protesting sons out of the house and into the car, which we moved away from the house. We were in pajamas and bare feet while we waited for the heater in the car to warm up. We watched dark smoke billow out of our windows as our small local fire department arrived.

Somehow, my wife and I were filled with a peace that belied our circumstances. We gripped hands and prayed, thanking God for our family’s safety and especially that our son had not been in his room when the fire began—the first time we were ever grateful for a seizure.

We opened our eyes after the “Amen.” All we had in the world was given to us by God, like Psalm 24 tells us. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” We instinctively knew that He would give us what we needed, just like He always had before…and He did.

Our dear neighbors and loving church family in Winchester, Ill.—about an hour west of Springfield—brought us blankets, clothes, coffee and emotional support. Over the next days, weeks and months, we would watch God fold His arms around us by bringing people to us. We had spent years together trusting God to take care of our atypical family each day, and He had always proved Himself faithful and now continued to do so.

Within three months, we had relocated to Springfield, where I now serve as IBSA’s short-term missions coordinator. We have a new house and new furnishings. Most importantly, we have another reason to entrust all that we have to God. Matthew 6:21 reminds us that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Our treasure always lies with our God. That way, our hearts will forever be in a safe and peaceful place.

Bob Elmore is IBSA’s short-term missions coordinator. He and his family are members of Western Oaks Baptist Church.

Meredith Flynn


Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.