Monday, April 19, 2010

Keeping Out The Damp

*I found this in my saved drafts from back in January-I had partially copied it from my prayer journal so, I finished transferring and thought I'd post it* :)

The charred remains of yesterday's fire sat lifeless and gray in the fireplace while I looked at them over the rim of my coffee cup. The large round log that had proved damp was still there in the iron grate. I thought of the night before and the blaze that had lit the room when the pile of quartered logs burned and cheerily and performed their crackling, popping and glowing puppetry. The children imagined they saw lions and dragons amidst the pile that served well as a stage for our family's entertainment. Earlier, we had watched, as Brian got the fire going. The kindling and log quarters hungrily leaped and licked at a large log he had placed in the fireplace -uncut. We thought it may have gotten a sprinkling outside and had hoped that it would dry out eventually, catch fire, and give off it's heat on that cold January night. Alas, there it still was the next morning, the whole of it -all black and charred on the outside from the tireless attempts to rouse it into a blaze.

The initial appearance of the log was deceiving. It hadn't looked wet when we brought it in and it didn't feel wet, but as the heat intensified we heard the tell-tale squeals and screams of the water escaping in a vapor. We tried to encourage it by blowing at the base of the fire. Some of the outer bark would glow when we blew on the small blood orange embers dotted with flickering blue tongues of flame, and from a distance the log appeared to be all wrapped in ribbons of flame and blazing heartily with the rest of the timber. However, upon closer look and after expending the surrounding fuel's efforts to ignite it, it was obvious that the log was too water laden burn. It didn't matter how hot or brightly the quarters burned around it, or that we added more dry wood to make the fire burn hotter-it was too big and too damp to to do anything but sap the energy out of everything around it. It just sat alone in the end-ugly and disappointing.

I'm sure we all have someone, (I'm thinking of myself in times past) if not ourselves at some point, who comes to mind who have taken on a "dampness" due to offense or lack of love, sin.... They show up to church and give the appearance that they are on fire by blending in or appearing "large", but eventually, the tell tale "shrieks" of offense are heard like the water escaping in a vapor from the log. Bitterness doesn't go quietly when pressure is applied-neither does pride. The offended or embittered saint who appeared to hold so much promise ends up sitting idly by- perhaps smoldering on the outside, but they have no life or fire on the inside. Instead of bursting into radiant warmth they suck the life out of anyone who gets near them. Criticism and complaint- puffed up prideful vapor is emitted instead of love and exhortation. Rather than promoting others to good success, they let the "damp" in their lives waste the energies of those around them. With subtle words they hurt the testimony of those closest to them and plant slander and seeds of doubt about fellow Believers, or our husbands... our own family. The actions and words of those around the offended suddenly appear warped and take on accusing and judging tones and they are deceived into thinking it's everyone else's problem, not theirs. Wondering how I know this so well? Uh, yeah...guilty of it in my own life so it becomes easy to see in others as well. Eventually, everyone else falls away- being accused a hypocrite. Finally, the Lord lets them sit, alone...(that's the hard part)in the ashes to see for themselves what the issue is. The result isn't pretty, but it isn't hopeless either. God is the Author of restoration. He loves and draws us, His children, to Himself over and over-chastising when necessary. He never gives up.

As I sat with my warm coffee staring at the ashes, I wondered how much I had in common with that large wasted log that remained. Many things came to mind. I have, as I mentioned before, been the big damp log left alone with the ugly truth...just me and the damp sin of my life. Whether it be attitudes or offenses, lack of being in the Word->it *all* wastes and hinders our service to the King. I thought carefully and a little fearfully: Have I allowed anything to dampen my testimony or my service to Him? Do I skew the world around me to position myself as the perpetual victim? I know that deceivers will be deceived themselves-am I deceiving myself and others? Am I giving myself to be used as fuel only to have the sin in my life or the cares of this world sap the energy of those around me? Am I so busy pointing my finger at those "burning" brightly in service that I don't see that it is MY attitude, MY spirit of contention that is hindering the Lord's ability to use me? How long will I sit in an offense taking on the "damp" of it...allowing it to spoil my thoughts and actions and waste the actions of those who try to help.

When the heat comes, that purifying fire of trial, the resentment and bitterness will all come shrieking out giving away its ugly presence for all to see. Yet, the only way to be emptied of ourself and to be filled with His will is to remain in the trials that will come to either ignite us into a brilliant fire that yields forth all that is true *or* shamefully send us running for cover. As painful as it is-that beautiful, life-giving and purifying fire...yes, it is painful,- we should welcome its revealing and cleansing presence. The Holy Spirit will not let us continue in our sin, no matter how small we may think it is. I *want* to emptied of that fire resisting damp that renders me useless to Him. Empty me of anything, Lord that won't burn brightly in service of You. I don't want to be that big ugly wasted charred log sitting unused in the ashes come day-break.