I have nearly always loved summer thunderstorms…until the other night.
“BOOM!” I heard as I got ready for bed. The house shook. The power shut off and came back on. If you have ever been in a typical rough thunderstorm before, you know the drill.
A short while later, I crawled under my covers and opened my Bible. Before I could read a verse though, I became distracted. There was a strangely loud hum of a truck coming from outside my window.
“It is after midnight,” I thought. “Why on earth would there be a truck that loud roaming through our quiet neighborhood?”
My curiosity piqued, so I pulled back my curtain and pressed up one of the blind slats to peer outside and see none other than a huge blaze of orange fire.
I could not believe it, so I blinked and looked again. It was still there, so I figured it was true. The house across the street was engulfed in flames. The loud hum of the truck was actually multiple firetrucks set up along my street, desperately trying to get water to put out the fire and save the surrounding houses from the same fate. As for the “BOOM” I had heard, well that was a lightning bolt hitting that unfortunate house, catching the homeowners’ attic on fire.
After getting up my family and alerting them of the fire, I headed outside. All I could do was watch the destruction and talk to our neighbors. I found out the most important news – the homeowners were safe, yet the blaze continued.
Our neighborhood has no fire hydrants, so the firefighters had difficulty accessing water. Eventually, they were able to have swamp water delivered into a pool through which the hoses could pump water. By this time, most of the house had collapsed and the pine trees in the yard were on fire. Embers flew high above the trees in the sky.
However, once the firefighters began diligently spraying the fire, it quickly receded. Within minutes, the raging fire died down, and only remnants of fire from the heat kept popping back up.
The hardest part of putting out the fire was simply accessing the water to put it out.
I think the same goes for the destruction of sin in our lives. We have to be willing to let the Lord actually access our hearts to put out the sin. We have to completely surrender all we have and call for help. Surely, He who is able can help us overcome our sin. He is the one who can trade beauty for ashes and salvation for belief and repentance.
In Maria Goff’s book, Love Lives Here, she talks of the pain of her family lodge burning down and how she was glad nothing remained of it.
“If there were even one old charred beam still standing after the fire, I’d be tempted to use it to rebuild…We do this all the time in our personal lives, too. We keep scorched pieces from our biggest failures and incorporate them into our lives and rebuild ourselves. It’s not a good construction practice with wood, and it doesn’t make for a good future when we do it with our lives, because it reminds us of our past. Sometimes we’re best served to start all over…start over in our lives the same way we’ll start over at the Lodge – we’ll make it a holy place again, nothing more and nothing less. Sometimes getting there requires clearing absolutely everything away from what we had, or who we were. Doing this is both simple and hard, yet we all get to decide whether we’ll do what is required. And for the courageous at heart, we simply start again.”
In the past few weeks, I have not felt like myself. Summertime is a season of starting over of sorts, yet I have been tiptoeing around the Lord and holding onto “scorched pieces” by not fully trusting in Him because I keep questioning His plans for me and doubting of His delight in me. So while I have not been fully embracing Him, I have kept seeking answers through His Word. However, I had not let His love pump through my soul as the water did through the hose. I did not want to feel His love for me when I found it difficult to love myself and trust my Father.
Instead, I have tried to control my own heart because I could control little else. Like lightning that appears beautiful and enticing while it illuminates the night sky, so does sin appear tempting and even beautiful in a world of darkness. Lightning bolts are fleeting, lasting only for a moment. My soul was not satisfied with my own attempt of control. Only my Father can eternally fill my heart through His love.
Since the night of the fire, I have seen lightning strike again and again. Similarly, the destruction of sin continues in our lives even when we love the Lord, like the remnants of fire that kept reappearing from the heat. But I am praying that we begin to talk to the Lord increasingly and become more aware of our sin. Like a lightning bolt’s clearly defined lines, may we understand the state of our hearts. May we learn to love ourselves a lot more by loving our sin less, being refined by the fire and starting over on the solid foundation of the Lord.
If you have felt the fire this summer, too – beyond the taste of s’mores around a campfire – maybe it is time for you to begin again. You have access to the Father of the Universe, simply call His name in surrender and let His love start a new kind of flame in your charred heart.