It got cold the last couple of weeks and I love it. The shift from air conditioner to long sleeves is a sweet one in my opinion. The coming months of sweatshirts and hats to keep my bald head cold are just fine with me. A benefit of the time has been that we have enjoyed a couple of fires in the fireplace, which sets a nice tone and makes the kids happy.
The fire doesn’t really produce that much heat throughout the house as much as it creates an atmosphere. There is a smell and a look and a sound to a fire that is good for the soul. There is a comfort created as our senses detect the evidence of the warmth more than the warmth itself. Even staring into the flame and watching the embers glow provides a place of escape through the focus on the flame.
Of course, that fire is contained and controlled. It brings all the benefit of fire with none of the potential damage. The heat and ashes are contained in the fireplace and the smoke is channeled through the chimney. It’s a safe, comfortable encounter with fire that comes with no direct exposure to the flame itself.
God describes Himself as a fire, too. Hebrews 12:29 says, “for our God is a consuming fire.” I wonder, are we comfortable with God as long as He remains in a fireplace with a chimney but not quite as intimate with the consumption of His flame? Are we “all in” for what He wants to burn off of us or would we prefer to enjoy the sight, sound and smell of God without the fire itself?
Christianity in the west has become so competitive that there is a need to present a sweet, warm and inviting picture of God’s nature. The net results is true; there is a sweeter atmosphere because of His presence in our lives. But that truth is not the fullness of truth without recognizing that the flame of God is what affords our senses the benefit of the atmosphere of God.
If we aren’t willing to trust Him to burn off the temporal junk in our lives, we won’t enjoy the eternal aroma of His handiwork. We’ll be stuck admiring Him from a safe, religious distance while the transformation available to sons of God eludes us in our safety and comfort. Knowing how God smells is not co-laboring with Him. It’s a Sunday morning observation of what is intended to be a never-ceasing intimacy. It’s like storing up firewood without ever really knowing the joy of winter.