Quite a few years ago I was interviewed as a Fire Officer by a journalist who was wanting to do a feature on what would be the one object a person would take with them if their home was on fire (assuming everyone else was safely out, and that they’d get out safely too). I was only one of about ten people she interviewed – but the only one representing the Fire Department. Staying on point, I insisted that no-one should waste time trying to find anything – no object was worth the danger of delay from a burning building! Back and forth we went until I relented and said “if I was to grab one thing – it would be my (old) Bible – the one I’ve had since University and read to this day.”
Not very practical, I know. I could easily get another Bible if it came down to that. But in that moment’s notice, my mind raced through the irreplaceable, or what I’d miss the most. So I thought after having already spent years reading, marking, making notes, and correlations in my Bible; after years of crying joyfully and repentedly; after years of talking with God about His thoughts in scripture – this was the one thing I’d take.
The One Thing You would take:
It is a question we must ask when we know there are moments left till impending disaster. It is a question that reveals what we value. Peter Scazzero tells the story of Etty Hillesum, a Dutch Jew, and what she took with her when she knew she was about to be sent to a concentration camp:
She knew she could only take with her one small backpack, perhaps about one cubic foot of possessions to sustain her as she entered hell. In her mind, she pondered and planned, mentally packed and unpacked that small bag, before finally deciding on a Bible, a volume of favorite poems by Rilke, a bottle of aspirin, an extra sweater, and a chocolate bar. Etty struggled to define what was valuable to her, and what would sustain her on her arduous journey. A stripping-down, a letting-go was inevitable as even small freedoms were limited and transport to the death camp came closer.
What is it that you value?
What would you strip down; what would you let go? What would be on your pared-down list of things you think you’d need to sustain your emotional and spiritual health in the face of disaster?