Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Preparation Meets Presence

I was all comfy in my chair, blanket piled high, Bible open and notebook settled.  My pen flew furious, unaware of the fire dwindling down to coals, this fire that heats the whole house.  Suddenly, I realized the absent flame.  It needed immediate attention or it would soon go out.

I did not want to get up.  Couldn't I just holler at my husband to come down the stairs and throw some wood on the stove for me?  No, that would be lame.

And so I got up.  Coals stirred, I placed the wood and settled back into my chair.  But the wood just sat and smoldered.  "Come on," I thought, "just ignite."  I didn't want to get up again to deal with it.   And so I waited.  Choking smoke began to build and then all at once, a glorious whoosh and the wood burst into flame, consuming the cloud.

At that moment, a realization came over me.  The fire was a picture of our youth retreat this weekend.  The coals represent the presence of the Lord gone before us, and the wood, the preparation.

Preparing the wood is labor intensive.  To burn well it must be cut down . . . split . . . reduced . . . splintered . . . broken.  But when preparation meets the presence of the Lord, the components are in place for God's fire to break out into flame.  All that's needed is the wind of His Holy Spirit. 

We prayed that God would meet us there, in our weekend, and He answered that prayer in a big way.

But there is more to this illustration.  I was reading from Numbers 15.  A man was caught gathering wood on the Sabbath and for that, he was sentenced to death.  It would seem a steep punishment for such a crime, and yet it reveals how crucial is this step of rest . . . of waiting on the Lord. 

It is hard to wait when smoke is building, to wait on God's timing. 

I am one who likes to be prepared.  I actually enjoy the labor of 'gathering firewood'.  And because of that, I often over prepare. 

Our wood stove is very efficient.  To obtain the correct airflow you have to shut the door.  It works opposite from your natural inclination.  Likewise, in our preparation, there is a point where we have to 'shut the door' and let rest.  We must stop gathering the wood and just watch while the smoke builds.

It is so tempting to open the door and mess with the wood or stir on the coals, but then the smoke burns your eyes, and the fire is delayed or sometimes, stopped altogether.  God is not controlled.  He brings the fire when and where He wills. 

I can think of no better way to describe our weekend than with this illustration.  God did more than I could ever ask or think and I hope to share that with you soon.  In the meantime, I'm going to rest, because maybe, just maybe, the glow of this last weekend was meant to warm your heart as well.  Stick with me tomorrow to hear "If Walls Could Speak". 

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