All Consuming Fire

We were camping this week with some good friends.  One of the favorite parts of any one's camping excursion has to be having a campfire.  Around it we sing songs, tell stories, remember, & roast marshmallows, much like our ancestors.  Ok, they might've roasted meat instead, but it is a very primal thing to gather around fire.

To watch a beautiful tepee fire burn can be mesmerizing, the flames dancing as waves in the air with the foam of embers crashing in the sky, as you wait impatiently for the hot coals that can toast a perfect marshmallow.

While I have probably read about too many saints, and thought too much about God, I wonder if we are to be like those logs that give off the exquisite fire.  I know.  Here she goes.  Yep.

By myself, I am just wood on the forest floor.  Useless.  Beautiful scenery, but I am useless.  I will rot.  I may become food for insects.  I may become dirt. But the fullness of who I am, the beauty of it, may be left untouched.

Gathered with others, lit by the fire which is God, we can give off great power, terrific heat.  We can be useful for warming others, for feeding them, for giving them light for their path.  We can also be dangerous and destructive when used improperly.

But what about me?  I am no longer myself, that hunk of wood lying on the forest floor.  I am changed, consumed in these flames.  I have the privilege of service.  I have the honor of being a part of something greater than myself.  I have an adventure, but the price is that I will never be the same.  I will give all of myself, be wholly changed after this.

Perhaps it depends on your perspective.  If you have always been God's, being consumed by him is not a problem because he can do with you as he pleases.  If you are your own, then the thought of being consumed, even by God, would be repulsive-no matter what the greater purpose would be. 

I sat watching the fire die to coals and wondered what purpose God might have in consuming us.  The beauty of the coals distracted me.  Like fiery stars they twirl and flicker.  When we woke in the morning, we used those same coals to light a new fire.  The log might be consumed, but it is used to transfer the power of the fire anew.

The heavens declare the glory of God: the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
    It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, 
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is deprived of its warmth.

 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.
  They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.
 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
 But who can discern their own errors?

    Forgive my hidden faults.
 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19 NIV


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