The time has come for the lighting of fires. As a former resident of a national park which was prone to bushfires, I hasten to add that one must not light a fire if there is a ‘total fire ban’ in place. But here, in this colder part of the world, in a house with a lovely little wood-burning stove, it is time to get that fire lit!
Here’s a picture of my little stove:
The photo was taken this time last year by a lovely friend who just happened to be visiting and just happened to be a skilled photographer. It also just happened to be a time of great happiness and anticipation.
At that time my prayer journals read something like this:
‘Thank you, Lord, for this great joy! I’m so happy! You are so good to me! I wish that everyone could be this happy!’
I say they read something like this because I can’t be sure. Prayer journals make excellent fuel for one’s lovely little stove.
Not long after, I was writing something like the following:
‘Thank you, Lord, for being in control over all this. Please help me to trust you with what I don’t understand. Please lift me out of this sadness. Give me joy.’
Or words to that effect. Those prayers also went into the fire.
I burned them, not because the prayers were meaningless but because I’d rather not read them again myself and certainly wouldn’t wish others to read them in their repetitive whole.
The lovely thing is that God is answering those prayers. He’s proved himself to be wonderfully and powerfully good through it all. He’s shown me his love in ways I could never have planned or imagined. The joy I’ve been praying for is slowly being forged in my heart. He’s lifting me up and helping me to keep trusting him with things I don’t understand.
I was reading a book on my way home on the bus today and was up to the chapter on forgiveness. I was so struck by these words from the apostle Peter’s first letter, paraphrased by Eugene Peterson in ‘The Message’:
‘What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven – and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all – life healed and whole.
I know how great this makes you feel, even though you’ve had to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.
You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him – with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.’
(1 Peter 1:3-9, The Message, cited in Relationships: A Mess Worth Making, p 103)
I love a good book-burning! I love the warmth it produces, anyway.
I may not love it when I’m facing God’s refining fire in my life, but I love the joy and hope it produces.
My leftover lentil soup is presently warming up on top of the stove. A couple more notebooks should do the trick!