What Do You Have That No Fire Can Destroy? Couple Married for 75 Years Die Side by Side in California Wildfires

PHOTO: An undated photo of Charles and Sara Rippey
PHOTO: An undated photo of Charles and Sara Rippey

Charles and Sara Rippey met in grade school in Wisconsin and were together ever since. They attended the University of Wisconsin and married in 1942, before Charles served in the U.S. Army during World War II.

The couple celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary last year. Charles was 100 years old; Sara was 98 and had suffered a stroke. They lived together in their home in Napa, California.

Last week, they died together.

After wildfires ravaged their community, one of their sons discovered their bodies. Charles fought through the intense heat and smoke and almost made it to his wife’s side. His son found their remains near each other.

“My father certainly wouldn’t have left her,” he told reporters. Only metal and porcelain survive in the charred remains of their home—coffee cups on a low sill, a porcelain tea set, and two metal chairs side-by-side.

The Rippeys are making headlines because their lifelong commitment to each other strikes a chord in our souls. We sense somehow that what they had is what we want. We know that there is more to life than what a fire can consume.

Richard Simmons III is founder and executive director of The Center for Executive Leadership. In The True Measure of a Man, he notes that we have shifted from a production economy to a consumer economy. As a result, we measure ourselves not by what we do but by what we own. Our work is a means to our wealth.

And in a culture driven by social media and instant celebrity, we measure ourselves by how others measure us. Simmons quotes professor Christopher Lasch, who observed that people “would rather be envied for their material success than respected for their character.”

Marcus Aurelius noted that “the true worth of a man is to be measured by the objects he pursues.” What “objects” should we pursue?

Remember Paul’s answer: “I count everything as loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have forfeited the loss of all things and count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8). Paul the Pharisee knew about God. Paul the Jesus-follower knew God.

How intimately do you know God today?

According to Jesus, there are only two priorities that matter: loving God and loving others (Matt. 22:3739). When we understand how deeply and passionately we are loved by our Father, we are freed from the need to justify our lives and impress our culture. We are freed to love the One who loves us and to love everyone he loves.

And we find a life purpose no fire can destroy.

In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman is fired from his job and takes his own life. His older son explains why: “He had the wrong dreams. All, all, wrong.” His younger son protests, “Don’t say that!” The older son answers, “He never knew who he was.”

Do you know who you are? More importantly, do you know whose you are?

SOURCE: The Denison Forum – Jim Denison, Ph.D., is founder of the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, a non-sectarian “think tank” designed to engage contemporary issues with biblical truth. Join over 100,000 who read Dr. Denison’s daily Cultural Commentary:denisonforum.org/subscribe . For more information on the Denison Forum, visitdenisonforum.org. To connect with Dr. Denison in social media, visit twitter.com/jimdenison or facebook.com/denisonforum.

A love letter to the viewer,

If you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, here’s how you can do so today and have a home in Heaven when you die:

  • First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
  • Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
  • Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

  • Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
  • Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
  • If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to GospelLightSociety.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door“. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you!