Jim, his wife Kathy and their 3 children lived in Northern Michigan. They lived only a mile down the road from a Proving Grounds. It was a 2000 acre site which was formerly a small town of about 400 people. The homes there were now old and abandoned. The first Monday of each month a fire company would come and run drills. They would pick a different home, place the various fuels throughout the home and allow it to burn. The fire company would then be able to train new recruits in the skill of fire fighting.
As Jim’s children were growing up they were told repeatedly to never go near the proving grounds – especially on the first monday of each month. They were continually told about the dangers of what could possibly happen if they were caught on the property. On certain months Jim would take the kids and stand across the street on the first Monday of the month. They would watch as a home was totally engulfed in flames. They would proceed to watch as the skilled firemen began to pull the axes and hoses out of their trucks and begin to instruct the new recruits.
Jim’s oldest son – Kevin – loved the proving grounds. He and his friends would often ride their bikes throughout the property. Kevin found it difficult to stay away from the serene lakes and lush woods. He and his buddies would often spend hours hanging out there. There was much to explore and many places to ride his bike. If his parents ever found out he would have been sorely disciplined.
As Jim’s kids grew up and married they moved out of state – all that is except for Kevin. He and his wife found a new home only a few miles away from his parents home. Part of the reason he stayed so close was because of his fond memories of the proving grounds. He always felt he never wanted to move too far away.
Kevin and his wife had only been married about 2 years when Kevin had the inkling to drive down to the proving grounds on the first Monday of October. Parking his car by the main road he walked the half mile distance to some of the abdonded homes. He found a large, victorian style home with an extensive front porch. Momentarily he hesitated before going in – but he thought “What are the odds of this exact house being used for fire training?”
The house he picked had once been quite beautiful. Much of it remained the same as when it was abandoned in the 1940’s. In the cellar he found many old relics, broken furniture, pottery, canning jars and even old clothes. Picking through the assorted parphanalia he lost a sense of time. He had probably been in the house just over an hour when thick smoke began to seep into the dark basement. Groping his way towards the stairs he could no longer make out which direction he needed to turn. Over and over he felt along the walls to find the stairway – but now he found it difficult to breathe.
Wednesday morning astonished friends read Kevin’s obituary in the paper.
Kevin had been warned all his life. It had been made absolutely clear to him that the proving grounds was dangerous and off limits. Over and over his father had told him of the possible dangers of burning to death. There was no more anyone could do to stop him. He was an adult and he had made his choice.
Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life – no man can enter Heaven except through me.”
When He spoke these words it was not empty threats. The words were not spoken to judge any race or nationality or religion. Fire is fire no matter what you look like or what country you are from. God warns humanity every day through His Word, through His ministers and through conviction of the heart. When someone chooses to ignore the warning – what more can God do? This person has now blatantly chosen fire.
God never sends anyone to hell. The person who goes to hell has made the choice despite a lifetime of warnings.
It is now the beginning of the month – why are you at the proving grounds?