This afternoon I stopped by a store to run in and grab a few items. When I parked there was a man sitting in his car and as I pulled into a spot he was staring at me. I gave him a head nod and didn’t think much of it As I gathered my things and exited the truck I looked again and he was no longer visible because his, I am assuming, girlfriend was bending sideways across the center console “appreciating him.” She was kissing him and whatever else because I averted my eyes not wanting to see anything that would burn an image in my brain! I went into the store came out a few minutes later and was hoping the car had gone but alas it was still there. Most of the windows were fogged up except the driver’s window and the driver was smoking a cigarette. I looked at my keys, hopped in the truck and drove away, quickly.
Intimacy is one of the greatest emotions and connections humans can share. Lust, on the other hand, is hormonal, selfish, addicting, and satisfied in ways which can hurt others. Our world is filled with lust. Lust for power, fame, money, reputation, knowledge can all be subjects of our lust if they are used only for our selfish purposes. True intimacy is also powerful but the opposite of lust. Lasting intimacy is giving ourselves to another. We have intimacy when we decide to put the other one first, serve the other. In a world where lust burns quickly, brightly, we need those who would rather do a slow burn which lasts a lifetime.
Last night I sat in front of a roaring fire outside at our fire-pit. I had cleaned up the yard over the last two days and had limbs and other stuff we no longer needed to burn. I watched as the flames consumed the items and then deposit them in the air as smoke and ash.
I thought about life and all that we hold dear is quickly used up and thrown away. Nothing in this world is permanent. Everything is transient. I reflected upon the life of my friend who is suffering in a hospital holding on to a life which isn’t intended to endure. However, he holds on as tight as he can because he loves his family and his friends. He and we don’t want to say; “Goodbye.” In his weakened condition, he still worries about others and how they will make it without him.
The fire burns down and I start to feel the cold of the evening. I’ve run out of fuel to feed the flames. They get lower, the embers glow less brightly and soon will go out. I get up and move inside. A place of warmth, safety, and comfort. I pray my friend, at the right time, will leave this cold world and find his eternal dwelling place as well.
Hope is Tricky –
Fire can be a tricky thing. It doesn’t always burn when you want it to, go out when need it to, spread evenly, move at a trackable rate.
Last night a mighty storm blew through our area and left a lot of dead limbs in its wake (see pic). This afternoon I went out and picked them up. Some were wet, others dry but I was hoping to burn them since it was such a large pile. Pouring a little fuel starter on the pile I lit the match and waited. The fuel burned quickly but didn’t seem to be able to light the other limbs and debris. After half and hour, the flames disappeared and a big puff of smoke emitted from the pile as if the fire gave up.
It was lunch time so I went inside, washed my hands, decided what I wanted for lunch but as I was sitting down it occurred to me to check the fire, “just in case.” I stepped outside to get a view of the pile of limbs and spied one tiny flame. Over the next several minutes the flame grew and before I knew it I was sliding my chair away from the fire as it grew taller and hotter consuming everything. A few moments before it seemed out for the count but it was biding its time, growing warmer, waiting for the right conditions and then everything worked together to feed the flame and devour the pile.
Sitting there I thought about the elusiveness of hope. Hope, like a fire, isn’t always easy to keep lit.In dark times we need the light to see, the warmth of hope to stay focused and alive. However, in desperate seasons, hope seems to be snuffed out. We are drained, drowning in the evil which surrounds us. We need the flames of hope but a puff of smoke seems all we can muster.
Hope takes its time, smoldering, waiting for the right conditions, time and place to burst forth in uncontrollable, consuming flame. Hope can be a tricky thing. It doesn’t always inspire when you want it to, give you strength when you need it to, spread evenly, move at a predictable rate. Hope isn’t ours to control. It’s more powerful than us.