I remember when I was young I had a thing with fire. I made a lot of bad decisions with fire. When I was about 8, my father built us a life-size, full out playhouse. It had doors, windows, rafters and shingles on the roof. It was truly a miniature house. He was a great carpenter.
You can guess where this is going. One morning I climbed into the rafters and held a match to the wooden roof. I watched it as it began to catch on fire. By the time I ran and got a dog bowl full of water, it was too late – it took my dad, a hose and a fireman to put it out. My tailbone got a lashing that day.
A few years later I stood over a five-gallon bucket of water, poured gas on top and dropped a match in. The explosion burned my face and all my eyebrows off. I thought the water would minimize the effects of the gas -- not true.
Today I enjoy my fires contained in the fireplace at my home, carefully crafted and screened. I also enjoy a good fire pit at the ranch. I can sit and watch what has been called “Texas TV,” (a burning fire pit outdoors) for hours. There is something peaceful and calming about sitting there watching the flames and colors, the warmth and the sounds.
When I went to Colorado last November to the Wild at Heart conference with John Eldredge, I was again drawn into the flames. It was not a physical burning flame that consumes playhouses and five-gallon buckets, not even logs of cedar or oak. It was a burning flame inside me to be a better man. To come to know Christ in a deeper and more personal way. It is a fire I hungered for a long time.
It seems most of us today are always in a hurry and few of us fan the flames of our passions. Even fewer folks listen to the quiet talk of our hearts or when God speaks to us. Oh, we try to when someone gets hurt or we are in trouble, and I believe God listens to us then, but what about in between?
Our country after 9-11 is a perfect example. The flames of patriotism and a search for God in our lives was evident by the masses heading into churches and giving financially to help organizations. Eventually that all faded and we returned to the hustle and bustle, the business of our lives. God, well He will be there when I need to chat with Him, on my terms, right?
What I want to do is live in the peace and comfort knowing God, a loving Father, cares about me. I want to please Him in who I am and what my life means. The love of a father is an intricate part of knowing love, feeling comforted, feeling safe, feeling OK. When I was on the mountain, I learned a lot about it. I learned more about God as my Father and how important that love is to me and for me.
The fire that I now crave is the one God placed on my heart to know him. It is a deep and burning flame that warms me and fills me. Yes, it does burn down and I have to intentionally and purposefully stoke it. The difference is that I want to know it more; I want it to burn in me.
When I burned down the playhouse, I remember being confused as to why I did it. I also remember when I was looking at myself without eyelashes after the water bucket fire experiment, thinking how stupid that was. Today, though, I am excited about the new flame I found burning. The one for which I was looking. I want to sit and enjoy it, the warmth, the comfort, the quiet, the complete sense that no matter what, my Father loves me and it is all gonna be OK.