God Is With Us

Read this featured blog post by Pastor Tony Rea

God Is With Us


I Can (series)


The August morning I’m about to describe to you, started out in typical and routine fashion. I stood roll call in the 13th Precinct squad room from 7:45 to 7:55AM, was briefed by my sergeant on special attentions in our area, given my patrol assignment for the day, and then dismissed to start my shift. My partner secured the keys to the scout car while I checked out a few prep (portable) radios. We rolled out of the precinct parking lot a little after 8AM and drove directly to the coffee shop. Yes, the stereotype is true, no one loves coffee and donuts any more than cops.


Over a few cups of coffee early that morning, my partner and I engaged in a bit of small talk, which undoubtedly included conversation about the Tigers. I think they had a lousy season that year. We discussed a game plan for the day—if there were any “police-related” stops that had to be made (a.k.a. shopping); then, right there at the coffee shop, I started a required daily document called the activity log sheet.


We were at the restaurant, all told, for about 20 minutes when we received our first radio run assignment of the day. I believe it was a report run of some kind, nothing earth-shattering or of an emergency nature. Since we were at the north end of the precinct and had to go south, we hopped on the ditch (Interstate 75).


Not long after entering the expressway, we noticed a ton of gray and white smoke pouring into the morning sky, and I distinctly remember it was a beautiful morning, the sun was shining brightly. The temperature had dropped down significantly during the night hours, so it was still a little on the cool side but very comfortable. The smoke was billowing out of one of the homes along the I-75 service drive. The fire must have started just a short time earlier because it was still pretty much contained over the one house. Immediately I radioed dispatch to alert the fire department, and I gave the dispatcher the exact location of the burning house.


My partner and I were the first responders on the scene (within seconds) and observed the fire to be coming from the upstairs flat of a two-story residence. We both went to the rear of the house and noticed a back stairway. I raced up the stairs and tried to enter the house through the rear door but was immediately pushed back by the smoke and intense heat.


Right around that same time, the owner of the house, who had been visiting neighbors started screaming, telling us her three young children were upstairs. I made a second and then a third effort to enter the house but could not. The people who lived in the downstairs flat were not at home and the front door was locked. I made one final attempt to get into that upstairs flat, and please believe me when I tell you I was exceptionally motivated. I pushed through the extreme discomfort and was finally able to open the door a few inches, but it was impossible for me to enter. Reluctantly, I was forced to come down the back stairs… empty handed. I could feel the anguish exuding from mom and the small crowd of people who had gathered there.


That’s when the fire department arrived, their response time was probably three to four minutes, max. They set up their hoses in record time (less than a minute) and gushed water to the back steps area. Several firemen in full gear, including oxygen masks entered the building; moments later they pulled out three lifeless looking children, two boys under the age of five and a nine-month-old baby girl. All three were unconscious, covered with soot and ash from head to toe, but not burned. They were all suffering from severe smoke inhalation.


The boys, who were barely breathing were placed in an EMS vehicle and rushed to Children’s Hospital. The infant had no signs of life, she was not breathing, and there was no pulse. The EMT worked frantically attempting to clear her airway and draw the smoke out of her lungs. He allowed me to assist, and I gave her CPR using two fingers. I remember crying out to God on her behalf and after 15 to 20 minutes of spirited effort, she was pronounced dead at the scene. It was tragic. I cried… with tears.


In order to complete the incident report, we had to follow up at Children’s Hospital and check the status of the boys. The same EMT who tried to save the infant told me he didn’t think the boys had much of a chance to survive. He said they both inhaled way too much smoke, and so I fully expected to hear they too had died. However, about an hour later when we arrived at the hospital, both of those little boys were playing in the nursery area. They were in hospital pajamas, all cleaned up, running and jumping around like nothing happened. They didn’t have a single burn mark on them—no indication whatsoever they had just been pulled from a fire and barely escaped death.


Do you remember the story in Daniel, Chapter 3? King Nebuchadnezzar was so mad at three Jewish men who refused to bow down to him, he determined to kill them.


Daniel 3: 20-27 (NLT)

Then Nebuchadnezzar ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace…

But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?”

 “Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied.

 “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!”

 Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!


OK, one final passage for you to consider; and yes, I’m praying God will reveal and confirm his faithful commitment to you. Even in the midst of tragedy and heart break, God is still with us! In the ugliest of situations, God offers peace. He makes a way where there is no way. The God of the Bible, the God we serve…is faithful!


Isaiah 43:1b-3

Fear not, for I have redeemed you,

I have called you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,

I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,

they shall not overflow you.

When you walk through the fire,

you shall not be burned;

neither shall the flame kindle upon you.

For I am the Lord your God…