I love to reminisce with my mum. You know, talk about things we did as a family, before we all flew the nest and made homes of our own. Today’s memory was an absolute gem.
It was a perfect sunny summer’s day. Mum and dad had just been given a portable “one use only” barbecue, so they decided we'd make a day of it and have lunch at beautiful Normanville, South Australia.
Arriving at the destination around midday – a good two hours after departure – they chose a picture-perfect spot and proceeded to unload the lunch. Mum saw to the salads - slightly wilted lettuce and tomatoes, warm coleslaw and sweated bread - whilst dad commandeered the barbie.
After half an hour we could see the first signs of annoyance creeping over dad’s furrowed brow. Had we forgotten the meat? No, the mountain of snags and hamburger patties was sitting in the eski, awaiting their fate. The matches? No, dad had them. There was no breeze, so that couldn’t be the source of dad’s frustration. What was it that had him so hot under the collar?
“The fire starter won’t light.”
Puzzled, I pushed on with my enquiries; a brave move, given that by now, dad had been trying to light the ‘no mess, no fuss barbie’ for close to an hour.
“The fire starter is the little white block sitting in the middle of the heat beads. It’s supposed to catch the fire from the match and burn so hot that the heat beads also catch the fire, providing the heat for us to cook the meat.”
It seemed the meat was going to be given a reprieve; yeah, soggy salad sandwiches for lunch. Sigh.
After many more attempts at lighting the stubborn fire starter – and a rather long trip back to the closest shops for more matches – dad finally coerced the white glob to light from the match's flame. The small black rocks closest to the fire starter smouldered a little and then, suddenly, sprang to life; glowing a beautiful orange-red, they emitted a delightful heat. Within moments the glow spread throughout the tray, until each one was red-hot and raring to go.
And so we were saved from the soggy salad sandwiches; it was more like a very early tea than lunch, but it was worth the wait.
As mum and I talked about this trip from many years ago, I began to think about how similar humanity is to the heat beads.
God created humans to be his friends, but because of sin entering the world, we are all separated from God. Thus we can go through life resembling the heat beads in their natural form; cold, lifeless, and unable to serve our intended purpose - that being to worship God, in love.
Then our spirit touches the spirit of God. It might be a “suddenly” moment, it might be a gradual process, but somehow our spirit catches the fire of God’s spirit - and we are brought to life. We glow from the inside out, giving off warmth and light and, growing more and more aware of our purpose, we start to truly live for the first time.
And, as we rub shoulders with others who are still lying dormant, we transfer the fire of God to them, by sharing the love of Jesus for them – personally! By allowing the Spirit of God to keep our fire burning brightly, we in turn help to start the fire burning in the hearts of our friends, our family, our neighbours, our workmates; everywhere we go we carry the fire of God, the passion to see His name lifted on high, and to share His unconditional love and forgiveness.
In today’s world, possibly more than ever before, people are looking for something to ignite their heart’s fire. Wealth, health, love, lust, entertainment, astrology; they will look to anything that promises to bring them to life, to fulfil their heart’s desires. But not one of these things can burn hot enough or bright enough to release life within their aching souls. Only the truth as revealed by God’s spirit to one’s spirit - the love of Jesus for humanity, his death and resurrection – can ignite the embers of a person’s soul.
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