Friday, July 3, 2009

Just thinking about Fire

That fire

I love to stare into fire, its flames move in their exotic writhing dance. They wake the shadows in people’s eyes burning like small stars. At the same time I have a healthy fear of it, having witnessed firsthand its destroying power. There is s certain fascination though, to even house fires. I remember driving past one once, and I watched in awe as people poured out of the neighboring blocks to watch this house be consumed. As I watched I wondered why we are attracted to the beautifully dangerous. Like the way I love watching thunderstorms right before the rain comes. The thunder beats its war drums as the lightening breaks the sky. Heavy winds rage heedlessly casting tree and branch in every direction. I love the thrill of it in its wild magnificence, its feral nature. The ocean too, is both friend and foe to those that know it. I remember being in Puerto Rico one summer. I was standing waist deep in the dark water one night. I remember thinking that the sky looked as though it was pouring the stars out into the sea. Then, rising out of the pool of stars, herds of huge white foam horses crashed against me. I can say without a doubt that I am drawn to the beautiful and terrible, but it’s not just me, humans love the mysterious and dangerous. I have to say that God is so often like these things to me. Sometimes He is the bringer of peace, that comfortable friend. Other times he is Jehovah God; Mighty ruler, who shakes things up. The Psalms are my favorite examples of this sort of thing. They often represent God as one, and then quickly switch, showing the other. It is an interesting contrast, for something to be both gentile and fierce, but God is both and so much more. It is possible that we are drawn to these earthly wonders as a side-effect of our Spiritual longing, our inner struggle to find and understand a powerful and gentile God. Psalms 46:1-10 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields [b] with fire. Be still, and know that I am God.” That is part of my favorite verse, and I love how it connects these two ideas of God’s character. That he uses His might to make His good and perfect will happen.
Every day I find out more about this God that I serve. I long to understand about this God who is strong and fierce as a Lion, and yet still as gentle as a lamb, He who is a still small voice, and crushes nations underfoot. Even with all the understanding I have gained in my few years and that of people wiser than me, the day that I can say that I know God, that I have pinned him down and I am sure that I understand Him will be the day of my greatest error. As long as I am satisfied knowing that I do not understand Him, more than my goldfish looks up and understands me, I am wise. So how do we help people understand God? How do we help them realize He is the one they are drawn to? I suppose my only answer is living like we truly believe He lives. We must live our lives in the fear and wonder of Him who watches. If we live in such a way that it shows the closeness with Him, as well as the awe of Him, they will at least believe that we believe. Because He is both of these characteristics in full people who are afraid of Him can learn his patience and forgiveness, and those who scoff at Him can learn to be terrified. Each of these two sides is not just tempered by the other, but made clearer. Through the Oceans ferocity its gentleness is made more obvious, and through the storms wreckage we appreciate its gentile rains.

pics thanks to and