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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Consuming fire is a byproduct of a desperate heart

1-3 Listen, God! Please, pay attention! Can you make sense of these ramblings, my groans and cries? King-God, I need your help. Every morning you'll hear me at it again. Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar and watch for fire to descend. (Psalm 5:1-3)

A bold cry from a desperate heart - Listen!  Pay attention!  Why?  I need your help!  There is no other acknowledgement that God needs more than the simple admittance that we "need his help".  I honestly believe that those very words set in motion countless things way beyond our comprehension - things meant to protect us, provide for us, and powerfully intervene in the turmoil of our life experiences.  David was desperate - desperation moves the heart of God.  

Think about it - if you had two kids sitting side by side on the couch, each making a plea for your attention, which one would you be most inclined to turn to?  One is sitting passively there, holding up a sign with crudely written words, "Will honor you for food".  The other is bouncing up and down, waving his arms, crying out, tears flowing down his face, crying out, "Please, please, I need you!  No one and nothing else will do!  I need YOU!"  

In serving God, there is no room for complacency.  The characteristics of a complacent heart are simply to be so self-satisfied with the present situation that you don't see or acknowledge any need for change.  You are completely unaware of the potential dangers that lurk just around the corner if you continue in that place of complacency.  In healthcare today, we understand very well the concept that "nothing is as certain or as constant as change".  In our spiritual walk, we should be just as certain that nothing is as EXPECTED as change!

I think David realized that change was inevitable - but also that it was expected.  He had patterned his life after the ways of God - he knew full-well that yesterday's "constants" would be today's "traps" if he allowed himself to "settle in" and just enjoy the ride.  David admits his need - he even goes so far as to tell God that he could expect to hear about that need over and over again until that need was met.  Not met in his own power or ability - but in the power and purpose of God himself.

Desperation is marked by a sense of urgency - there is an awareness of the circumstances of the heart, mind and soul that leads to an admission of the urgency of the need.  There is an ultimate effort to give it all - in surrender to the one who can take the little we surrender and make it significant in his hands.  David says he did that every morning - offering his "all" to God on the altar, hoping for God's fire to descend and to consume his total offering.  Nothing was as vivid to the Hebrew people as the sense of an offering totally consumed by the fire of God.  Think about it - a life offered totally consumed by the fire of the Spirit of God!  That was David's plea.

Urgency compels us - it moves us forward (or gets us bouncing up and down on the couch, so to speak). It creates an internal motivation to "do something".  The danger comes in us trying to "do something" in our own efforts - not seeking God's "something" to create the exact answer that we need.  We see the need for "food", just like the first boy on the couch.  He sees the need for "spiritual sustenance", just like the second boy on the couch.  Yes, he meets our physical needs for shelter and food, but he desires to meet much more than those.  He desires to meet the needs of our stripped-bare hearts, our hurting emotions, and our ripped apart relationships.  He wants to repair damaged beliefs, tainted perceptions, and unrealistic fears.  Those are the pleas he hears the quickest - that turn his ear, direct his attention, and fill his heart with compassion toward us. 

Nothing moves the heart of God quicker than the one who realizes that the need for change is present, not future.  His response to that realization is to send consuming fire!