Friday, June 1, 2012

The Parachute

What is it with God and parachutes?   How many times does it feel like we are free-falling from 15,000 feet?  Zooming toward the ground, scared stiff and with no options, we cry out to God.  And suddenly!  God likes that word.  Suddenly.  Suddenly your chute pops open not a second too late.  A circumstance of life suddenly changes in your favour.

He's God of the Freefall, a last minute type of guy.

So many times, God has come through for me at the 11th hour, 59th minute. It's brain numbing, oxygen zapping.  But is that so our every breath has to come from Him?


If you play with fire, you're gonna get burnt.  Dad often said this to me as a child, as I was naturally drawn to fire.  It's an old saying, and a true one.  Fire burns.
What thoughts come to mind when you think of fire?

Danger.  Unpredictable.  Destruction.  Pain.  Loss.   For many, these are their thoughts.
God our creator says He is a consuming fire.  (Deut 4:24; Heb 12:29)   When we think of fire, we think of fire burning things up, not creating them!   But God seems to have a way of turning things on their head, doing things differently to us, challenging our thinking.

I laugh when I think of how God has hidden clues that point to Him, just like a treasure hunt but the clues are hidden in plain sight!   Think about the sun, for example.  There it is, our burning ball of fire and life-giving energy, positioned just the right distance from us.  Any closer and we'd burn up.  Any further away, and we'd freeze to death.  Perfectly positioned.  A fluke?

And all the planets revolve around the sun.  Some amazing, incredible force keeps them all spinning and all revolving and all balanced.   If one of those planets decided to suddenly career off on it's own, away from the sun, it would be death to that planet, and probably other planets in it's path.

It's as if God has a huge clue sitting up there, saying to us, make ME the centre of your lives!  Focus on ME.  I am vital to your balance, to your very existence.  I know what you need.  Just stay near me, focus on me.   Don't pull away.

Fire in the Bible often points to God.  God rocked up as Fire, time and time again in different ways.  
  • in the making of the Covenant with Abraham (Gen 15:17)
  • the burning bush (Exo 3:2-4)
  • pillar of fire (Exo 13:21)
  • on Sinai (Exo 19:18)
  • God answering by fire (1 Kings 18:24 and 38) 
Sacrifices and offerings in those days were to be made by fire.  (Exodus 12:8-10; Lev 1)
Even incense required a flame.  Incense represented the prayers of the people, floating heavenward.    Fire often signified God's acceptance of a sacrifice.  (Jud 6:21; 1 Kings 18:38; 1 Chr 21:26)

Our world without fire would be a vastly different place.  Much manufacturing requires fire.  And of course, without the sun, we're done.    "Apart from me, you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

Fire is a biblical symbol of Yahweh.  God Himself.   "I am a consuming fire" God says.

Fire is constantly moving, changing intensity, colour, brightness.  You never get the same fire twice.  In creation, no two things are truly, completely identical.  Even identical twins have their differences - inside and out.  

Energy waves given off are very powerful, whether from the sun, or the splitting of an atom.  Think about light ~ the laser!  The amazing, target power of it.  If God dwells in us, and we allow his fire to take hold of us, could our prayers be so much more targeted, focused, effective?

But first, the fire of the heart needs to kindle.  What is this fire?  A fire of love for our enemies. (Matt 5:38-48, Rom 12:20)  

This is the fire that will bring righteous judgement into the world.  Pray for your enemies!  It's a privilege to pray for those who take advantage of us or mock us, each day of our lives.   It's difficult, absolutely!  But entering into that fire somehow burns off hurt, pain, bad attitudes, unforgiveness.  We pray for them, but we get the benefits.

God manifested as smoke and fire on Mount Sinai, saying He wanted to speak with the Israelites.  Such a great honour and privilege to be chosen to hear God.  But they wanted Moses to be the man-in-the-middle, and bring the word for them.  They feared death.

Yesterday, Moses.  Today, what excuses do we use, to avoid dying to self, to avoid God?  Busyness.  Tiredness.  Work.  Sport.  Family.  Even church duties!   Fire burns.  But it burns dry, old wood quickest.  What stuff do you have in your life, that is old and dry.  And I am not talking spouses!   I am talking about your own life.  Your own stuff that weighs you down, gets in between you and God.

Allow the fire of God to enter every nook and cranny of your life.  Not to destroy.  But purify, cleanse, correct.  

Have you ever seen the aftermath of a bushfire?  Stark, blackened stumps.  No life.  Ash everywhere.  But a year later, and new life and growth is shooting, springing forth from the desolation.   Promise.  Hope.  Beauty from ashes.

When it will feels like everything's falling apart around us, keep looking heavenward!