Our Fire-tending God

I had a hurried time in the Word one day this week, catching just a few snatches, a short Psalm, but even a few snatches are powerful when the Spirit applies them to the heart.  I read Psalm 93:

The LORD reigns…the world is established; it shall never be moved…The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods lift up their roaring!!
Mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty!  Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.”

And I scribbled these words in my journal before scooting off to breakfast and on with the day: How will this truth live in my thoughts and actions today and bring life to damaged belief systems?

I struggle with varied nagging fears.  It is my nature not to trust completely and to feel instead that it’s up to me to insure my well-being, and that of those I love.  This is problematic when circumstances are clearly outside my control!  I have been thinking about these things and on this particular day I got a little object lesson in how senseless and peace-robbing my fears are, and how trustworthy and holy-making is God’s Word at work in my heart.

Jim was burning brush in the backyard—a great mound of it left from his landscaping work… It has been so very dry here this summer. Fire bans were in effect while forest fires raged in record breaking ways nearby. But the rain has returned and cooler temperatures allow for burning once again. Still there is always a risk. And the crackling of fire, the smoke, the consciousness of its heat and potential make me wary… Well, so I took lunch out to Jim as he stood sentinel by his blazing inferno.  And we sat together at a short distance to eat. But I could not relax, could not enter into our usual discussion of life and faith… I kept straining to see if the fire was within its parameters and had not reached to lick up dry grass and spread out of control…It wasn’t my job. Jim was in charge. He was mindful. (And he is after all a trained fire fighter!)  But I felt an undue responsibility and it robbed me of a peaceful lunch and  meaningful conversation. But I recognized it, and that’s a start.

Well, the day was too lovely to be holed up indoors so after lunch I brought my current project out to sit and keep Jim company–stitching a pine needle basket. There’s nothing quite so peaceful and therapeutic, especially on such a day when there’s  just enough sun to be warm and enough cool to feel refreshed, enough autumn in the air to luxuriate in the remains of summer!  A perfectly restful idea, EXCEPT for the presence of that crackling blazing fire.

Could I actually relax and attend to MY business and let Jim attend to his as if there were no fire crackling nearby, no smoke lazily rising, no threat of catching the world on fire! I almost chose to stay inside rather than wrestle with my fears.

It seems a silly example but for my heart it was a moment to rest in  a bigger reality. God is the Fire-tender. (He is Himself a consuming fire!). His domain reaches infinitely beyond my own. He has given me a calling within it along with its attendant duties; these are my domain. He intends for me to carry them out at peace with the world–to stay calm and carry on, so to speak, to mind my own business, looking to Him for the wherewithal to do so and let Him mind His. When I do my task with inner peace and quiet joy, confident in His superintending care, I honor Him as a very good King. I am a subject; He the King. How blessed are the subjects of a wise King, as Queen Sheba commented in observing King Solomon’s impressive court.   And what  glory contented subjects bring to their King.

And with these thoughts fed by the morning’s reading of the Word, I sat and stitched…and let the fire be somebody else’s business.  The LORD reigns.  Forever.  Period.  The noise of a flood (or a fire!) may be in my ears, but HE reigns.  It can do no harm but what He allows.  This was a relevant object lesson for me.  I can trust Him to manage the fires in my life—the burning away of dross, the disciplining of His children for the sake of our holiness.  My response?  I can REJOICE in GOD even as I tremble at His Word.  Abiding in Him I can ask, knock, and seek,  confident that He hears, that He knows, and that He will grant what is in line with His purposes.  There is great peace in such an arrangement.

If you were to ask Jim whether I have fully learned this lesson of trust, he would let you know I’m still querying him about the smoke drifting past the window as the roots continue to burn day and night…I still remind him to check on things (as if he needed my reminder), and to be honest, I’m still a little on edge about this fire business in the back yard. I’ll be relieved when it has burned itself out completely.   But there it is, my object lesson about needless fears.  Were God only a consuming fire and not perfect LOVE, were I not His by means of a covenant He established and I have entered into by faith, I would do well to fear the FIRE.  But as it is, He is committed to my good, bringing all that He is to the task, for His glory’s sake.  He is a covenant keeping God.  I can rest in this… and go on stitching my little pine needle baskets to His glory…

So whatever you are doing today, do it to the glory of God—with quiet confidence that He reigns in all the raging world around, as you fulfill His purposes for you in the here and now.

–LS

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“…we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God…” Rom. 5:1,2

More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Rom.5:11

For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” Rom.5:17

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,  keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. Jude 1:20-21

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