We woke this morning to hear the tragic news of the deaths of two RFS volunteers from Horsley Park Brigade, who perished in a vehicle accident whilst firefighting near Bargo.
For me it was particularly sobering, given that only four days ago I was on the same stretch of road, in the same uniform, in the same type of fire truck, serving in an out-of-area deployment to fight the same Green Wattle Creek fire that continues to rage.
Even though I felt somewhat powerless this morning, I knew that I could still pray that God would bring comfort to the many people who are grieving the loss of family, friends, and fellow brigade members.
This kind of tragic incident reminds us of the shortness of life, and that any day might be our last.
Whether you’re responding to a fire with lights and sirens, or simply crossing the road outside the shops, every activity brings risks that can lead to death.
When I conduct a funeral service, I read these words of comfort and assurance from the Bible:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
Our life is like grass, we flourish like a flower of the field; the wind goes over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children. (Psalm 103:8, 13-17)
At at time like this we pray for the comfort of those who mourn, and we also pause to reflect on our own mortality as we know that one day every person will stand before Jesus to give a personal account for their life.
The good news in this time of sadness is that Jesus has promised to give each of us certainty for eternity if we simply trust and obey him as our loving ruler and rescuer.
Today all RFS brigades will fly their flags at half mast as a mark of respect for the firefighters.
As you see the flags, pray for comfort for those who are grieving, and reflect on the fragility of life this side of eternity.
(I took this photo on Monday on a firetrail between Balmoral and Buxton, only a short distance from where the tragedy occurred last night.)