Fire changes things! Fire has the power to destroy, cleanse, create warmth, produce light, and inspire. You will find people gathered around fire pits on a summer evening, and the warmth of a fireplace on a cold dreary day. Just as the flame of a physical fire has the power to change the atmosphere, so also the fire kindled by the presence of Jesus Christ has the power to transform.
This past Sunday morning we considered Luke 24 which describes two disciples of Jesus taking the long journey back to Emmaus following the disappointment of His crucifixion, burial, and discovery of the empty tomb. They could have remained in Jerusalem trusting that the empty tomb was not an empty hope, but instead they had given up on that possibility and began to take their own pathway to a different destination. Although unrecognized at the time, Jesus joins them on the journey. As they share their disappointment Jesus tells them how all of these things had to take place by explaining to them about himself in all the scriptures. The scriptures Jesus explained to them were what we call the Old Testament. At their invitation, Jesus joins the two for dinner. As he blesses the bread, breaks it, and gives it to them their eyes are opened, and they recognize him. He vanishes immediately, and they say to one another: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” His words to them were like fresh oxygen that fueled the flames! Hearts aflame they quickly return to Jerusalem to share the news with the other disciples. Discouragement was now replaced by enthusiastic deployment. Fire changes things!
How often do we fail to recognize the living presence of Jesus when we are faced with the dreary cold realities that seek to rob us of real life? We have a great advantage over the two disciples who didn’t recognize the resurrected Jesus because we stand upon over 2,000 years of resurrection reality. We have not only the Old Testament, but also the New Testament as well that testifies to the resurrection of Jesus. So why at times do we struggle with a diminishing life reflected by a flickering flame? Could it be that we are too busy carving our own pathways that we miss a larger life and greater path? Like the two disciples Jesus will meet us on our self-made pathways, but He doesn’t want to leave us there. Jesus is calling us to come follow Him while far too often we are asking Him to come follow us. A prayer found in Psalm 25:4-5 is helpful at this point: Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Our flame flickers when we place hope in things other than Jesus. Our flame flickers when we pin our hopes on what is not hope, and therefore take paths that are not His path. So, take a deep breath and examine your present path. What does your path say about your hope? Maybe it’s time to do a reset so that you can focus on Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Ask Him to lead you in His loving and faithful ways so He can rekindle your heart with the oxygen of His living presence. May your flickering flame become a roaring fire fueled by a hope that changes your pathway. Fire changes things!
Is the flame of your heart flickering? Please consider joining us this week as we seek to allow God to kindle our hearts as we consider His great hope and good paths!
A prayer of John Wesley (found in the Ashes to Fire devotional): “O God, fill my soul with so entire a love for you, that I may love nothing but you. Give me grace to study your knowledge daily, that the more I know you, the more I may love you, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.”