I love to play with fire.
Both literally and figuratively, I suppose.
In the past, my brother and I enjoyed backpacking. The hike was great and we loved each other’s company. We chose trails for their beauty and diversity. My favorite time during the hike was dusk. It would be getting dark, we would finish putting up the tent, and then set about to build a fire. Fire is great. It would warm us, and give us light. We could cook on it, and of course, just burn stuff. My brother, being the oldest, was always practical, and he would warn me to respect the fire. Burning sharpened sticks so that I could throw flaming javelins into the woods wasn’t a great decision he would say, and as usual, he was right. When fire is unleashed it is uncontrollable. Everything we thought we could control just a minute ago, could rage out of our control if we were careless.
In some ways, fire is like God.
God provides for us, feeds us, keeps us both warm and safe, but God is not to be played with. We may think that we can control and predict God, but God doesn’t work like that. The people of Israel needed to know that the God that was in their midst was better than they could have ever possibly dreamed. He was not, however, simply there for their comfort. He was there to lead them and to love them, and sometimes love is uncomfortable.
Fire is consuming, though not always for the better. God’s love is consuming. His love will consume our deepest fears and doubts. It will leave us changed, but unlike fire, the change is always for the better. All of us are consumed with something, our careers, our finances, our relationships, our appearance. God wants us to be consumed with love, his love for us, and our love for others. His love is a fire that will change us and our world.
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