Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Consuming Fire

Yesterday, we looked at a number of ways that our holy fires might burn in an attempt to take the emphasis off having a fire that burns like a retreat or seminar fire, the kind of passionate, raging holy fire that consumes us after those mountaintop faith experiences. Because there is a truth about your holy fire, no matter how it burns, and that truth is this:

That's the fire that brings your offerings to God.

That's it. That's the one. Whether your fire is raging in your spirit or kindled just enough to keep warm, that is the fire by which you bring your offerings to God. 

One of the jobs of the priests in the Old Testament was to keep a fire burning in the Temple at all times. It didn't have to be a big fire, didn't have to be a bull-consuming fire; it just had to be something, even a little flame, so that if one of the faithful people of God arrived at any hour of the day with an offering for the Lord - for sin, for thankfulness, for atonement, for freewill, for whatever - the priest, the Temple, and the Lord were ready to receive it. 

Because when a heart is turned toward God, there's no time to build a new fire. You've got to have, and to use, the eternal holy flame that never goes out. 

That's why our smallest fires on our hardest days are just as good, just as valuable, just as vital, and just as pleasing to God as our biggest blazes on our best days. That's why it's okay if right now, your fire is just a little flame. That's why it's okay if your fire is doing something besides raging - if it's a place of social connection, if it's a cooking flame, if it's a creating flame, if it's a kindling flame. It doesn't matter what fire you're burning as long as you're burning one because the fire of God never goes out. And every fire is capable of being a consuming fire when you bring your offering by it to the Lord. 

Paradoxically, as our God so loves, it must be said, the bringing of an offering by fire changes the fire, as well. What may not look like a very good consuming fire becomes one when there's an offering on it. The smallest fires swell and burn hotter and brighter as they consume the offering; the raging fires rage higher around the sacrifice.

Even if it's just temporary, even if it's just momentary, even if it's just in a flash, bringing an offering by your fire stokes it, just for a second, into something bigger and reminds you what it means to have a fire burning before the Lord. 

It means the Lord is near, just as it always has. Ready to receive. Ready to welcome. Ready to atone, to heal, to meet you in the smoke. 

So whatever your fire is doing right now, it's okay. It is. As long as it's burning before the Lord, it's good. 

For at any moment, then, you can come with your offering - for sin, for thankfulness, for atonement, for freewill, for whatever - and let your fire consume it in the eternal flame.

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