Fire or Water?
Wow, with the extremely warm and dry winter we have experienced we are seeing repeated reports of wildfires racing across our land! We all know that these fires can be extremely destructive to property and often hazardous to lives of both man and beast. There is a phrase often heard about wildfires that has always puzzled me, “These fires are very beneficial!” What? All I see is the destroyed grazing land and forest habitat, and the great expense of attempting to control and stop these fires. Not good stuff. The experts always go on to say how fire purges the land of built-up leaves, branches, and excess allowing space and nutrients for new growth to flourish. I guess the fire cleans up the mess that piles up over time.
During a recent Bible study, we were studying the passage in Isaiah 6 where the prophet encounters the presence of God. You recall that Isaiah was made keenly aware of his sinfulness as he stood exposed to the pure light of the Divine. “Woe is me!” The right response, for sure! An interesting thing happens upon Isaiah’s confession of guilt, one of the heavenly beings picks up a burning coal from the altar and touches it to the prophet’s lips pronouncing that his guilt is removed and sin paid. God has to clean him up before he can send him out. As we studied the passage the question was voiced, “Isn’t cleaning usually done with water instead of fire?” A nurse in the group observed, “In the medical world water is used repeatedly to clean and clean again where fire or heat is used to cauterize. Fire addresses cleaning but also healing.”
It is interesting that John the Baptist said, “I baptize with water…but he (Jesus) will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire!” John baptized for repentance but Jesus’ baptism is for eternal spiritual healing. Firefighters set back fires to fight the onslaught of flames by removing the fuel that feeds the inferno. The one place to go where sin’s price has been fully burned is the foot of the cross!
Questions for Reflection and Action:
- What are the places in your life where mess has piled up?
- What do you need to do to move from repentance and guilt to healing?
- How can you surrender what keeps fueling your sin?
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