Trial by Fire – No, Really – TRIAL BY FIRE – A Deeper Church

As we’re celebrating our new look over at A Deeper Story, some of us got to double up on our story-telling. Today, I’m on the Church Channel . . .


There were days in my pastoral life when I wanted to chuck it. Days when politics and personalities joined forces to quench the Spirit, when trivia took up more space on the calendar than truth, when frustration and fatigue invaded body and soul. No doubt about it, parishioners (and pastors) can be difficult, demanding, prickly and pervasively apathetic.

The church is not a perfect organism. How can it be? It’s made up of human beings!

But sometimes, those very same human beings can rise to the occasion. Sometimes they can look and act like exactly who they are as members of The Body of Christ. And when that happens, all you can do is take a deep breath and watch as miracles unfold.

Just over four years ago, I was privileged to watch such a miracle during a time of deep crisis in our community, a time when grace showed up, despite all kinds of reasons why it could have called in sick!

On a late November Thursday afternoon, the wind blew hot and wild. I had just said goodbye to the last of a dozen women gathered in my foothill home for a planning session. As I tucked her into her car, I looked around and said, “I hate this kind of weather! It’s too hot, the wind is too high and it feels eerie.”

Just minutes later, the phone rang: “Fire in the next canyon! Get ready to move out!” That very morning, the senior pastor had flown east to conduct a family funeral. I was now point-person for a terror-filled emergency in our community, and our own home was in the line of fire.

So was the church.

Staff who were still on campus evacuated a few things and then were sent down the hill by police and fire personnel. Members of our congregation who lived in the faculty housing for our neighbor, Westmont College, were forced to leave everything behind, fleeing for their lives to local hotels and over-crowded homes and shelters. My husband and I drove south a few miles to sleep at our son’s for the duration, and I began trying to gather church leadership for prayer and planning.

Throughout that long first night, it became clear that we had been hit hard . . .

Please follow me over to A Deeper Church to read through the rest of this story . . .

Get a personal letter from Diana twice a month

Sign up for *More Wondering. . . * a monthly personal letter from Diana to you, available only to email subscribers. As thanks, receive a copy of Diana's new ebook,30 Ways of Aging Gracefully.

powered by TinyLetter

To receive blog posts in your inbox, sign up below.


  1. Diana, thank you for this beautiful (though painful) story. It brought tears to my eyes. Yes, sometimes the church lets us down, but that fact doesn’t negate the times when God’s love comes through loud and clear, does it? This reminded me of hearing men’s voices in conversation and laughter rising through the floor of my room from the living room below when my dad had cancer. He was too ill to leave the house and attend our church’s men’s group meetings, so the guys came to him. It meant a lot to us all.

    (On a different note, I have finally added the email notification option to my blogs 🙂

    • You’re welcome, Elena. And that is a lovely story about your dad’s friends – so kind and sounds like it happened naturally, without anyone feeling burdened by it. We need more of that in the church – and we need to tell each other when we see it happening. I’ll try and get by to subscribe at your place tonight, if I can.