Friday, April 10, 2009

Lessons from a bonfire

Lesson #1. Fire is attractive.

In the chill 50 degree weather, the flames of my bonfire draw my neighbor out of her comfortable house to visit. We talk about a bunch of nothings and move around adjusting ourselves to avoid the smoke. The wind is keeping us guessing.

It is Good Friday and she suddenly asks if we are having a service again this year.

Last year she and her family attended Good Friday services with us but not Easter. I was so disappointed, since Easter is the great celebration after the somber tone of the account of the crucifixion. And they haven't come back all year, though her youngest daughter has returned to AWANA and has put her trust in Christ. I invited her family again this year to Easter Sunday and she hasn't yet committed to attend that service so the question about tonight's service is a little...surprising.

As I look in the flames, it hits me that fire is attractive. Why should I be surprised at the twists and turns that she takes in her spiritual seeking? She is feeling her way through the spiritual longing that I have no doubt rests deep inside her soul. She is seeking the light and warmth of the Savior and her path isn't necessarily going to be laid out in textbook format. She is just responding to the attractive nature of God.

Lesson #2. A breath of wind reveals whether a fire is dead or alive.

I am done playing with the fire. The neighbors have gone back home and the kids are inside playing x-box. I rake the coals, spreading them out to die and begin busying myself with stacking the unused wood and the camp chairs. I glance up in time to notice that a breath of wind has re-ignited the fire.

I sit back down in the camp chair to wait the fire out and spend some time in prayer. Prayer for my neighbors and their salvation mostly. Prayers for the perfect opportunity to arise to talk with them about Christ. In the meantime, the fire has died and re-ignited a couple of times before this thought hits me.

There is a lot of pressure that I put on myself to say just the right thing at just the right time in just the right way. The reality is this: salvation is a work of God, not man. It is the breath of the Holy Spirit that will reveal to my neighbor's heart whether she is alive in Him or dead. It isn't my brilliant choice of words. It isn't my impeccable sense of timing. It is the Spirit.

I do pray my neighbors will be drawn out of their comfort zone spiritually and be touched by the light and warmth of Jesus' love. And I pray that whether it is tonight or Easter Sunday, or just some time in the future days ahead, that they will sense that breath of the Holy Spirit and respond in faith.

Easter Sunday update: They didn't attend Friday night's services but I was DELIGHTED to see them this morning. Just can't wait to see how God will work through this!!

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