Skip to main content

Wildfire or Stoked Fire?

Richard Nixon reminds us, "The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire." The hottest fires can be the ones that come up unexpectedly and consume way more than we ever thought possible by one tiny spark. They can also be those that are stoked over and over on purpose so as to accomplish a particular task. Both have similarities, for both require fuel in order to burn. What fuels the fire that refines the "steel" of our lives is sometimes stoked with great intent by a faithful God, while at other times we might just find that something which appears to be a wildfire burning in our lives is really the result of "untended" ground.

Fire is used to make gold and silver pure, but a person’s heart is made pure by the Lord. (Proverbs 17:3 ERV)

Wildfires burn because there was something to ignite - the fuel existed to allow the slow burn to begin to become a much bigger burn. The wildfire burns because something acted as an ignition point - there was something that set that fire in motion. Wildfires aren't very discriminating about what they burn - anything can be fuel to a wildfire! They also aren't very predictable because they are not contained - they have the potential for limitless impact if there is enough fuel for them to continue to spread. This is why fire fighters will create a "break" between the fire and the fuel - to deny the fire access to what would otherwise have been right in its path. There are times in our lives when we leave too much "untended" areas in our lives that eventually produce enough "fuel" to allow the wildfires of life to burn out of control when there is something igniting that fuel.

A stoked fire is usually a little more contained and is built with a specific purpose in mind. There is a specific type of fuel utilized to create this fire and it is well-tended so it burns at a constant temperature. Why? The fire is intended to warm cold places, light a dark corner, create a means by which nourishment can come into our lives, or perhaps even allow the purification of what touches our lives. It can only bring warmth if tended - an untended, but contained fire will eventually burn out if not frequently stoked. It can bring light into darkness when there is enough glow from the fire to illuminate - but that also means there must be a way for the fire to be in our lives without harming us. 

God doesn't want wildfires burning out of control in our lives, so he asks us to deal with the "fuel" of the "fallen stuff" in order to make is less likely there will ever come a time when the fire burns without a real purpose. He desires the "contained fire" for it is purposefully ignited and tenderly stoked so as to maintain just the right degree of "burn" for the task at hand. If we need illumination, he will ensure there is enough flame to shed light where darkness exists. If we are hungry, he will cultivate the coals just hot enough to bring nourishment from what is placed upon those coals. If it is purification, the fire might just be stoked a little hotter than we might like, but what will be produced far outweighs the momentary discomfort of those hot flames. Just sayin!


Popular posts from this blog

What did obedience cost Mary and Joseph?

As we have looked at the birth of Christ, we have considered the fact he was born of a virgin, with an earthly father so willing to honor God with his life that he married a woman who was already pregnant.  In that day and time, a very taboo thing.  We also saw how the mother of Christ was chosen by God and given the dramatic news that she would carry the Son of God.  Imagine her awe, but also see her tremendous amount of fear as she would have received this announcement, knowing all she knew about the time in which she lived about how a woman out of wedlock showing up pregnant would be treated.  We also explored the lowly birth of Jesus in a stable of sorts, surrounded by animals, visited by shepherds, and then honored by magi from afar.  The announcement of his birth was by angels - start to finish.  Mary heard from an angel (a messenger from God), while Joseph was set at ease by a messenger from God on another occasion - assuring him the thing he was about to do in marrying Mary wa

A brilliant display indeed

Love from the center of who you are ; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply ; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. (Romans 12:9-12) Integrity and Intensity don't seem to fit together all that well, but they are uniquely interwoven traits which actually complement each other. "Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it." God asks for us to have some intensity (fervor) in how we love (from the center of who we are), but he also expects us to have integrity in our love as he asks us to be real in our love (don't fake it). They are indeed integral to each other. At first, we may only think of integrity as honesty - some adherence to a moral code within. I believe there is a little more to integrity than meets the eye. In the most literal sense,

Do me a favor

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. (Philippians 2:1-4) Has God's love made ANY difference in your life? What is that difference? Most of us will likely say that our lives were changed for the good, while others will say there was a dramatic change. Some left behind lifestyles marked by all manner of outward sin - like drug addiction, alcoholism, prostitution, or even thievery. There are many that will admit the things they left behind were just a bit subtler - what we can call inward sin - things like jealousy,