If The House Burns Down Tonight

by Andrew Forrest

Can you imagine what it must be like to hear police pounding on your door at 3 in the morning telling you that if you don’t leave immediately you will be burned alive? You grab–what?–your kids, jump in the car, and drive away as fast as you can.

That happened to Jon Foreman of the band Switchfoot a few years ago, and he wrote a song about it?called “If?The House Burns Down Tonight”[the link has since been taken down]:

A few months back, a fire was raging through our home-town of San Diego. And when an unstoppable fire is barrelling down towards your part of town, you realize just how small you really are. The smoke blocks out the sun, the ash is falling from the sky, and your lungs begin to burn. So you run through the house and make a quick grab of the stuff you can carry, make sure that your family is safe in the car, and you make your escape.

It’s a bracing thought: what if everything you had was about to burn?

Compared to the ones you love, what is ownership? What is property? Stuff? Possessions? In moments of life and death, these obsessions are meaningless. Think about what you would save from the fire. What would you fight for? Or maybe the real question is who- who would you risk your life for? And what about your things, all of that stuff that you paid so much for?? In the crucible of the fire, it becomes crystal clear: you let the rest burn.

I love that: the thought that everything is about to burn makes it clear what really matters–those are the things you’d be willing to fight for or risk your life for.

What are those things for you today? Friends–all the rest: it doesn’t matter.

Let the rest burn.*


Crank up the volume, put down your windows, and drive: this is a great song.

 

Ashes from the flames
The truth is what remains
The truth is what you save
From the fire
And you fight for what you love
Don’t matter if it hurts
You find out what it’s worth
And you let the rest burn
The sunset burns like gasoline
Touch me and make sure that I’m not dreaming
I see her face and my heart skips beats
But I still get the feeling that we’re half asleep and
There’s a spark in the corner of my baby’s eye
Like a distant star that won’t burn quiet
And I might not know what I want from this life
But I know I want more than the starting line
So give me the fire
I can hear the motor running down the interstate
And all the distractions fade away
And if the house burns down tonight
I got everything I need with you by my side
I see the smoke piling up in the rear view mirror
Yeah but I ain’t ever seen it any clearer
If the house burns down tonight
I got everything I need when I got you by my side
And let the rest burn
And let the rest burn
And let the rest burn
I’ve given too much of my heart away
My soul‘s holding on like a house divided
Like a match it burns down like a masquerade
And I had to let it go when the fire ignited
One heart, two hands, your life is all you hold
(your life is all you hold)
To hold, hold tight and let the bitter go
Yeah let it go, and give me the fire
The smoke tries choking the pacific sun
We rocket down the road like we’re shot out of guns
And if the house burns down tonight
I got everything I need with you by my side
Holding you and the wheel and it occurs to me
We’re driving down the edge of eternity
And if the house burns down tonight
I got everything I need when I got you by my side
And let the rest burn
And let the rest burn
Put your hand in mine and
Put your heart in driving
We got everything we need yeah
We got everything we need yeah
Left it all behind us
What we need will find us
We got everything we need yeah
We got everything we need yeah
Can you hear that motor running
Can you hear that motor running
There ain‘t no stopping us now
There ain‘t no slowing us down
Can you hear that motor running
Can you hear that motor run, run, run
And all those lies that mattered most to me
Were draining me dry making a ghost of me
And if the house burns down tonight
I got everything I need, everything I need
There‘s a fire coming that we all will go through
You possess your possessions or they possess you
And if the house burns down tonight
I got everything I need when I got you by my side
And let the rest burn
Ashes from the flames, the truth is what remains

Have you seen this terrifying video? The most shocking part is the final few seconds when you realize that the entire time they’ve been driving has been in?daylight.

*Of course I’m not making light of what must be tremendous loss for these families–I’m making a larger, metaphorical point. Christ have mercy on these poor people who have lost everything.

 

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1 comment

George November 12, 2018 - 1:47 pm

Thanks Andrew – needed this reminder today.

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