Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Fire-fighter (10/05/06)
TITLE: The Fire-fighters of Devil's Canyon
By Sharlyn Guthrie
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Many roads lead into Devil’s Canyon, so that at one time or another, most travelers arrive there, whether by choice or by taking a wrong turn. High above the banks burn the fires, set as lights on a hill, to illumine believers’ good works and reflect praise to God. Believers who venture into Devil’s Canyon leave their fires unattended and vulnerable.
The canyon’s residents prefer darkness. Their fire-fighters have been trained to spring into action whenever a holy flame erupts. The heroes, the formidable fire-fighters of Devil’s Canyon are: Self-righteousness, Self-reliance, Self-pity, Self-consciousness, Self-service, and Self-preservation.
The mantra of Self-righteousness, chanted while charging toward the glowing fire is, “Look at me. Surely none is as great, noble, skilled, devoted, or powerful as I!” As praise for the Creator morphs into praise for the created, the flame is swiftly extinguished.
Self-reliance rushes in, calling, “Leave it to me! I have no need of assistance. I can handle this small flame on my own.” Soon enough, the light flickers and dies.
With slow and steady approach, not unlike the tortoise of the renowned fable, Self-pity creeps in, head drooping. Self-pity’s powerful inhalations suck precious air from the flame. Stifled, the flame goes out.
Knowing that the fire is good, Self-consciousness glances sheepishly over her shoulder. Her comrades would mock and shun her if she allowed the fire to continue burning. Into the flame she whispers. “I’m sorry to be found in such poor company as this group of proud fire-fighters,” but her soft, cool breath is enough to beckon darkness.
Self-service parades and performs in the light’s warm glow, hoping that it will reflect well on him. But instead, the light is impeded, blocked by the immense shadow of Self-service.
Tiptoeing around the fire, Self-preservation gasps as a flame leaps out, lapping at her face. In the fire’s pure light she views her hideous reflection, now scarred even more deeply than the last time she moved too near the flame. Everything in her cries, “Resist! Fight to the Death!” Finally, having stomped the fire and embers into oblivion, she slinks into the darkness.
If you have ever descended into Devil’s Canyon, you know that this is true. Perhaps your fire has been reduced to a flicker, or worse, extinguished by the dreaded fire-fighters of Devil’s Canyon. You may already know, to your dismay and shame, that a fire that has been reduced to ashes is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to re-ignite.
So if your fire still burns, and your steps have not yet descended, beware! Guard your path! Guard your fire!
Those who desire to keep their fires burning must seek help from the humble, homely keeper of the flame. It is the only way to keep the fire-fighters of Devil’s Canyon at bay. Be aware that the keeper of the flame carries a heavy cross and is only employable through deep sorrow, humility, and pain. The pain, however, is temporary, while its result is eternal –an inextinguishable flame, forever glorifying the Heavenly Father.
You will do well to remember the name of the keeper of the flame. It is Self-denial.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’.” (Matthew 16:24 NIV)
“In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:16 NLT)
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