What to Do in a Fire

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One fall afternoon when I was eight or nine years old, my twin brother, Micky, and I began piling up the dried cornstalks from our Daddy’s garden in back of our house. We had a pretty tall stack when Micky said, “Wouldn’t it be fun to see those things burn?” I had found a box of matches earlier in the day, so Micky said, “Why don’t you light the pile? Nothing will happen. Mother will never find out.”

I was old enough to know better, but my curiosity got the better of me. So, I lighted those dried leaves and in just a few minutes the pile was consumed by an inferno. Before we could think to douse it with water, it had spread. Now the entire garden was in flames. And the woods behind our house stood in the path of the ever-growing fire.

“Go get the water hose,” I yelled to Micky.

“You started it, you go get the hose,” he shouted back.

We stood wide-eyed in wonder just yards away, mesmerized by the dancing flames that crackled and popped as they were now spreading into the woods. We stood transfixed, nearly oblivious to the searing heat until Mother came rushing from the house, screaming for us to move back to safety.

Soon people from the town were coming to watch. I wanted to get lost for a week. Fortunately, someone had the good sense to call the volunteer fire department, and they put out the fire before burning down the woods.

After the fire was extinguished and the crowd had disbanded my mother asked who had started the fire. I did the brave and noble thing. I said, “Micky did.”

Eventually, I confessed. Later that year Daddy had a man come with his bulldozer and remove the small trees and underbrush from our woods. Daddy said it was because he wanted a bigger garden. I think it was because I almost burned to the ground our little town.

I learned some critical lessons from this experience. One, don’t play with matches. Two, don’t do everything your brother tells you to do. Three, mothers always find out. And, four, fire consumes, spreads, and attracts a whole lot of people.

Solomon’s Fire
I imagine that it was on a beautiful fall day that Solomon and the people of Israel came together to dedicate the temple. They had worked long and hard to build a permanent and magnificent structure to house the Ark of the Covenant. Finally, the day had arrived for the temple dedication. The people gathered, and Solomon prayed. “When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple” (2 Chron. 7:1).

The thought of fire falling from the sky boggles my mind. I know what out of control fire can do to some cornstalks. In my wildest dreams, I cannot imagine what it would be like witnessing God’s igniting the sacrifices on an altar.

God has always used fire as a way of identifying his presence. When the fire fell in the Temple Solomon built, God was stating that this was a holy place. The consuming fire was God’s presence making something holy. Only God can do that.

Our Response
When the fire falls on our lives, be it personally or corporately, all we can do is fall to the ground and worship a holy and living God. We are mesmerized by the sight of his consuming glory and grace. That’s what the people of Israel did. “When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord” (2 Chron. 7:3). Worship is expressing our love to God for who he is, what he’s said, and what he’s doing. In genuine worship the warmth of God’s presence is felt, the cleansing of God’s pardon is offered, the burning of God’s purpose is revealed, and the flame of God’s power is displayed.

Worship is not a weekly pep talk to rally the troops to win the contest. Worship is not the Christian’s alternative to a Saturday night rock concert. Worship occurs when people who have fallen in love with the God of the universe meet him in his consuming glory. Worship is a meeting between God and his people. Worship does not lead to an encounter with God. It is an encounter with God.

As a young boy, I learned that fire consumes, spreads, and attracts a lot of people. May we all learn that the fire of God’s presence has the same effect.

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About Rick Ezell

I am a husband, father, pastor, and writer. This blog is about shaping character, transforming church, and impacting culture. I believe that if one defines their moments then their moments will determine their character and their character will influence their world. I write on personal development, church leadership, and our changing culture. I also write about the resources I am developing and the books I am writing. My goal is to create challenging, relevant, and inspiring content that will help you be a better person, the church be a better parish, and the world a better place. If you are interested in those things, this blog is for you. I have served the church my entire career as a student minister and senior pastor. I studied at Samford University, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary (eventually I will get it). I have written eight books. My most recent ones are Chapter 13: The Excellence of Love and Soul Therapy: The Healing Words of Psalm 23. Both are available as eBooks. I have written over 1000 articles for various local, regional, and national publications. I have been married to Cindy for thirty-three years. We have one wonderful daughter. We live in Greenville, SC. In my free time, I enjoy writing, reading, running, tennis, and golf. You can contact me via email or follow me on Twitter or Facebook. This is my personal blog. The opinions I express here do not necessarily represent those of my employer. The information I provide is on an as-is basis. I make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any information on this blog and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its use.
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