Friday, February 23, 2007

The girls' first trip hiking...

Don’t Let the Fire Die

This past winter our heater went out and until we got it fixed, we had to borrow space heaters and build fires in our fireplace. Now, I never was a boy scout and I’ve only been camping a few times, so I am no fire building pro. I went out early on the first cold, heater-less morning and gathered tons of leaves and tiny twigs out of the yard. I brought them in and meticulously arranged them along with a few bigger sticks. I lit the fire and got the leaves going immediately… even the twigs caught fire… I was so pumped. I watched in eager expectation as the flames spread when I added a few bigger sticks… my prayer life took a great leap forward as I added the first log, but it didn’t take long for the fire to sputter and die. It is official: I am 27 years old, have a college degree, two daughters and a mortgage, but I can’t light a fire.

For the rest of our days without a heater, my wife lit the fires and I enjoyed their heat. She got pretty good at it actually, and still enjoys a good fire even though we fixed the heater. Personally, I am better at the little box on the wall with the buttons on it that makes the house warmer…

The other day I was reading about a fire that God told his people to light. It was the fire of the whole burnt offering… Back in the days of Moses and Aaron when God’s people were headed to the Promised Land and first learning about how to relate to God, He gave them all kinds of regulations about worship, how to approach Him and what it means to know Him. They had to make a lot of different sacrifices where animals were killed and burned on the fires of an altar. Some offerings were for sin and some were for saying thanks, but one was for devotion. That was the whole burnt offering… in making it, the fire burned up the entire animal… nothing was left over. To make this offering was to say to God, I give my whole self to You. I hold nothing back for myself but consecrate my heart, my mind and really my whole life to You.

I have known and read about this offering before, but the other day I saw something I had never noticed… the fires of the burnt offering were not supposed to go out. Leviticus 6:12-13 says, “The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat and fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.”

After thinking about it, this made perfect sense… if we are really going to offer our whole self to the Lord, we must resolve to be continuously consumed. It needs to be a fire that starts and never flickers out. The priests had to get up early every morning, remove the ashes from the previous day and night and then add new firewood to the burnt offering. It was the first task of every day. I know the fires of my consecration have not always been continuous, but I want to keep them going and the only way to do that is to rise up every day and add fuel to the fire… to spend time with the Lord and offer my whole self everyday. That’s how we are supposed to keep it going… to rise, take out the ashes of yesterday, arrange the wood and offer ourselves to the consuming fire.

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