He has that effect on people, you know… starts messing with a heart and then doesn’t leave it alone until it is undone before him requiring a response therein. He’s been messing with me for a long season, and after four months of a grueling faith workout, I’m finally finding some rest. I don’t imagine it will be permanent. Every now and again, faith’s progression requires some strengthening, thus the need for a month or two or four of a strenuous heart-stretching in order to reach the next, higher plateau. I think I’ve reached it… at least for now, and with the accomplishment comes a day or two or four of some sweet steps with the Father where his mentoring is tender and his Word serves as the gentle salve to soothe my aching bones.
We’re in this together, God and me. He keeps reminding me of this… keeps returning to the pavement of my real life with his kindness and goodness—a grace that supersedes any menial expectations I might lay at his feet regarding his participation. God makes it his habit to exceed my limited understanding where his character and his Kingship are concerned. Rarely do I get it right, but always is he faithful with his correction. He can’t help himself. He simply and profoundly wants to be known by his children. God longs to reveal his fullness to his people; all too often, though, we’re unprepared and unwilling for his weighty disclosure. Why?
Because to receive God in all of his glory… to know him as he longs to be known, well with that kind of revelation, we make ourselves vulnerable to full, personal disclosure and for most of us, that isn’t a comfortable fit. The closer we draw to the purifying flames of Christ’s candle, the clearer we see our own deficiencies. God’s fire rids the flesh of everything temporal and replaces it with everything holy—a consecrated word or two or four about the Word that, eventually and in God’s timing, must be spoken aloud so as to avoid personal, internal combustion.
When God embeds his branding upon a heart—when God burns his mark upon a soul—one cannot help but show the world. If you’ve no compulsion along these lines… no need to rip wide-open your heart in order to reveal the sacred imprint that God has left behind in the wake of his purifying flames, then may I be so bold as to suggest that you’ve yet to fully come to the furnace in the matter of your sanctification? If there is no burning desire in you to tell others about Jesus and the saving work of the cross, then what’s the point of your salvation… my salvation? Just to make it home to him in isolation? Just to narrowly escape the flames of hell while our brothers and sister, neighbors and strangers are strangled and confined with their eternal punishment all because we’ve put our personal safety above corporate well-being?
I know it’s a heavy word and, perhaps, not in keeping with the message you might imagine arriving from a day or two or four of sweet steps with my Father. But you’d be wrong, friends, because a message like this is sacred sweetness to my soul. The weightiness of my Father’s presence in my life is the kindest, most generous work of grace I have ever known. Accordingly, with God’s fullness, comes God’s mandate—his words about the Word and about the need to rip wide-open my heart so that those around me might be able to see and to smell the scorch of heaven’s branding.
Jesus Christ is like a fire shut up in my bones. Like the prophet Jeremiah, I am weary of holding him in for these past few months; indeed I cannot. Christ’s love compels me to release him… to unleash the hot and fiery passion of the cross so that all who are caught in its wake might be consumed by its truth. I don’t know where this passion will take me in the days to come. My world lives pretty small right now, but even small presents an occasion for the dispensation of God’s flame every now and again.
A trip to Wal-Mart.
A phone conversation.
A blog post.
A jog around the neighborhood.
A gathering of the saints at Christ UMC.
Indeed, a small extension in this big arena known as our world, but the last time I checked, roaring fires didn’t start out with a roar. Rather, they began with a single flame lit in honor of a single King for the single purpose of igniting a single heart until one by one, singleness morphs into corporate witness.
A roaring fire, flaming with the truth of heaven… shaking the very foundations of hell.
Indeed, I wish you could see me this morning… all fussed up and messed up with the truth of Jesus while sitting on my bed. I cannot think of a better consumption for my soul in the next day or two or four of my life. Thus, I pray…
Come and be my consumption, Lord Jesus. Fuss me up and mess me up with the truth of your weighty presence. Brand me with the cross and burn me brightly on the hill of your choosing so that others might come to know a day or two or four of sweetness in your presence. I put no conditions on my burning fire, Lord. I only ask for your faithfulness to fill me with your kindling and then to light me with the flame of your abiding Holy Spirit. We’re in this together; apart from you, I burn to ashes. With you, I burn for all eternity. Even so, come and set my heart ablaze for the kingdom. Amen.
Peace for the journey,
Copyright © July 2010 – Elaine Olsen