I was determined to start the fire in spite of rain predictions. Sweet William kept telling me, “It’s going to rain.” I know, but I intended to make the effort and burn what I could.
A couple of years ago, we constructed a fire pit at the side yard, with a salvaged stainless steel container and garden bricks from the hardware store; it was not bad looking for a do-it-ourselves project.
We intended to build fires, roast hot dogs and marshmallows and invite the neighbors. Years went by as I piled cut branches near the wood pile knowing they would be good for kindling. But eventually, the area became an eyesore, unused and unkempt. Wild things grew among the stacked wood. Weeds were tall around the small pit. And it became a project on my garden to-do list.
I was ready to start a fire, get rid of the rotting wood, and clear away the brush. I gathered matches and old paper, piled on dry stick and soon there was smoke and eventually flames. The rubble burned and the unsightly mess grew smaller.
It’s a funny thing about fire. It draws people to it. My cousins drove by, noticed us siting around the fledgling blaze, and pulled into our driveway. We invited them to come sit with us, properly distanced of course. Soon my other cousin who lives on our lane walked down to our house, and the five of us sat in yard chairs around burning embers under overcast skies.
I brought bottled water for us all and we talked, like we did before the world was crazy.
Eventually raindrops began and we scattered to cars and houses, back to sheltering in our homes. But for an hour or two, we were together again, drawn by the attraction of burning wood.
As I think of the re-entry process after two months of cocooning, I am considering my own responsibility and response to rules and changes and a new normal and especially the people I will meet face-mask to face-mask, or perhaps as our unmasked selves.
For years I’ve been discovering I cannot change others. I can only change myself. The lesson is hard learned, me with the constructive criticism, for your own good, mind you.
The powers that be can enforce rules, but it cannot change a heart. We may coerce people to do what we want, but we will not remake a life or an attitude or a mindset. Only God can light that fire.
How will I respond to rudeness? It should be with a gentle answer. What should I do if people get angry and shout their opinions? I could express myself with calm control. I can check my facts and know the truth before I dare to differ. I can stand for my God-given rights in peaceful protest.
Jesus’ example was humble strength. He did not back down, nor did He run over. He responded with wisdom, shrewd yet innocent of ulterior motives. He always spoke truth and He always acted in love. He was fervent splendor, ignited with the Spirit of God, and people were drawn to the heat.
As we move into our small corners of the world again, what if our lives were on fire with the light and love of Jesus? What if we walked without fear, clothed in compassion? Would people notice the difference? Would it catch their attention? Would they want to investigate and come closer, longing to be warmed by the passion of Christ burning in the lives of His children?
I pray it will be so in my own life, the one and only life I can change through the power of the Holy Spirit. I want His zeal and intensity burning in me.
And like the unconsumed bush that captured Moses’ attention, the fire of God will draw people to Himself. Then hearts will be transformed.