We just had a nice stone patio, complete with stone fire pit, added to our home. The other night our son and a few of his friends were gathering for the maiden voyage of the fire pit.
Scott and I were in the house watching television, contently thinking how nice it was to have Steven’s friends over. What happened next rocked my world, literally. BoooooooM! We rushed out to our back deck and looked down to the patio.
The patio and surrounding lawn area were covered in what looked like glowing rubies. Red hot embers littered the ground. If it were not so terrifying it would have been beautiful. The fire in the pit was extinguished and a tower of smoke snaked upwards, lit only by the remaining shards of logs as they radiated neon red heat. Once the vision made it to our brains we scrambled to comprehend what occurred, “What happened!?” and “Is everyone okay?!”
We grabbed fire extinguishers and joined the stunned group on the patio. Quick assessments were made of everyone…astonishingly no one was hurt badly. A few had small burns or scratches from flying concrete and firewood, no doubt all of them will carry emotional scars from such an unexpected and frightening event.
Apparently as they had just settled around the pit, and were close enough to warm their hands by the fire, without warning they felt, saw and experienced a large explosion. The percussive force blew them back a bit and it is by God’s mercy and grace that none of them were seriously harmed. Chunks of concrete, which formed the base of the fire pit, flew in every direction. The once burning logs were propelled upwards and shattered into large embers before settling to the ground around the pit and patio.
Though Steven and his friends were considerably shook up, it could have been much, much worse. We walked among the aftermath thanking God for His protection and looking for clues as to what caused the explosion. Our amateur sleuthing formed a conclusion which would later be supported by our contractor and various other professionals.
Unlike most fire pits, ours had been built with a concrete flooring and drain. Apparently the heat from the burning logs had cause a buildup of pressure below the concrete layer. There was no way to tell what actually caused the pressure below the concrete slab, but the most likely culprit was trapped water or moisture. Normally any expansion of gases or steam would vent through gravel grating. Our fire pit base had no ventilation points.
The events of that night continue to play through my mind when I try to sleep. It is both comforting to realize God’s provision on that night, and yet disturbingly clear how out of my control life can be.
The fire pit looked great. It looked solid and strong. The foundation of the pit gave no hint of hidden danger. It looked like it could handle the heat. But looks were deceiving.
Oh, the pit was strong. Matter of fact when all was said and done the walls of the pit and patio remained unmoved. It was the FOUNDATION that mattered, and it mattered a lot!
We can be like this pit. We sometimes present a strong outer image. We look like we can handle the demands of the world or hold fast under pressure. We diligently try to build our lives with good deeds and works, but neglect our personal relationship with our savior. But when we are tested, put under fire, it will be our foundation, and not the things we surround ourselves with, that will determine our ability to stand.
Just as I will diligently check the foundation of the fire pit in the future and always consider if it is able to sustain the heat and flame before EVER trusting it to do so…I will also need to check my spiritual foundation.
1Cor. 3:10-13 “…I laid a foundation and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which was laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw, each man’s work will become evident; ….because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.”