Fire In The Smokies

J. D. Conley
December 4, 2016

For the past six weeks firefighters have been waging a fierce battle in containing, and extinguishing, the forest fires raging in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. To add injury to this devastating event, fire department officials suspect arson to be the cause of some of the fires. At the time of this writing eleven lives have been lost, sixteen thousand acres have been burned, and over one hundred and fifty buildings destroyed. Among those buildings engulfed in flames, was the one in which the Gatlinburg church met. Thankfully, as of Thursday, the fires had finally been extinguished. But, the massive amount of smoke produced by this inferno greatly hindered evacuation, medical aid, and search and rescue efforts. Difficulty seeing and even breathing due to the smoke, proved to be one of the most debilitating effects produced by the fire.

The natural rugged beauty of this area of the country is a gorgeous thing to behold. The tourist towns of Gatlinburg and nearby Pigeon Forge are some of the most prized vacation spots in the country. To see this area marred by what may turn out to be a deliberately set fire, is heartbreaking. The horrible loss of human life cannot be measured. The financial loss of property will no doubt skyrocket beyond a billion dollars. It is indeed a sad and tragic event on varying levels. Those who saw it and lived through it, will never forget it. Yet, it is a stark reminder of the fragility and uncertainty of life and material wealth.

As bad as this fire was, as well as the possible reason behind it, it pales in comparison to the catastrophic fire that will arrive on the last day. The fire in the Smokies has finally been put out. The oppressive smoke is beginning to clear. Soon, the entire event will fade on the misty pages of time, eventually becoming a distant memory. All that has been destroyed can be rebuilt, the trees will grow back, and life in the mountains will resume. Perhaps even the culprit, or culprits, will be brought to justice.

"But the day of the Lord will come...An the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10). When this fire strikes, there will be no putting it out, there will be no sense in fighting it, there will be no rebuilding, there will be no resumption of life on earth - for there will be no more earth.

"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, whatmanner of [person] ought ye to be" (2 Peter 3:11)? A thought provoking question indeed! May the fire in the Smokies serve us well in the placement of our priorities.