Man on Fire

man-on-fireOne morning in January 1984 I set myself on fire. I was in my cabin up on the ridge and I was trying to build a fire. Alaska can be a cold place. I had also started a coffee pot and because it was so cold I opened up the oven door a couple of inches to get some heat.

The oven started getting the place warm, and I gratefully backed up my butt to it. That is when it happened. My sweater ignited from the front burner. At first I didn’t realize that I was on fire, but when the flames started spreading over my head I panicked.

I couldn’t put it out! I dropped to the floor and tried to roll. All that seemed to do is embed that burning sweater into my back, and set the carpet on fire. I ran to the bathroom with the idea of getting under the shower. Somehow I knew that was my only hope.

Needless to say I ended up in the local hospital with second and third degree burns on most of my back. It took months to recover and I still have the scars. It was something that changed my life.

Ironically, I had been thinking of a verse in Hebrews just the night before. I wondered what it meant.

He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.”

Hebrews 1:7

 As I healed I prayed for understanding. Why did the Lord allow this to me? I was in my third year at a Bible college and had given my life over for the Gospel. Why did this happen to me?

I’ve never gotten a complete answer from the Lord, but it did confirm my call into the ministry. It also made me aware of the precariousness of our lives. It taught me to appreciate life.

The doctor told me that if I had run outside instead of staying inside I could have died. God preserved me for His own purposes. We have no way of knowing “our time.”

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28


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