Fire In The Rain

His word is in my heart like a fire burning up in my bones.  I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.  (Jeremiah 20:9  NIV)

I was driving down a street to our house on a dark, stormy Midwest day.  The rain was coming down so hard that my windshield wipers, set on fast mode, couldn’t keep up.  It beat loudly against the car, drowning out the radio.

I saw what looked like huge flames billowing up from the ground.  I stopped, turned the car around and went back to investigate, but saw nothing.

I shrugged my shoulders, wondering how I could see anything because the visibility was close to nothing.  Turning back around I headed home when I swore I saw flames, again.  I stopped and pulled over.  As I stared through the pouring rain, sure enough, there was a huge fire.  I drove closer.  I was utterly amazed.

I saw a large container that had a huge fire, shooting large flames up into the sky, all the while the rain pouring, I mean, pouring, down upon it.  I sat for a few minutes wondering how in the world this fire could continue to burn in such a torrential downpour.

When I got home, I called the company and a gentleman explained to me that the company recycles wood and pallets.  He said they tear apart the clean wood that can be recycled then take the other wood and stick it into this thing called an air curtain pit burner.

He went on to explain that they start with a small fire, the wood similar to kindling.  After the small fire is going they turn the blower on which helps the wood to become very hot, around 2000 degrees hot.

I’ve never seen the fire on a sunny day but to my amazement, I saw it the first time when it was pouring down rain, visibility near to nothing.  I asked the guy about this and he explained that the fire in the pit is almost always burning but it is so hot that it is immediately vaporized.  Because of this vaporization, you can see the light from the fire the best on the dark, drizzly or rainy days.

Jesus said we are the light of the world. When is the best time to see a light?  Is it when the sun is shining or when it’s dark?  Christ is seen predominately by those around us when our world is dark and drizzly, when the rain is pouring down so hard that you can’t see two feet in front of you.

If you feel like you’re in a fire pit and the blowers are on, trust Jesus, He is reforming you to do great and mighty things for Him.  And if the day is dark and drizzly, know that this is when His fire shines the brightest.

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A Downpour

I began my day with some Beth Moore, James study, Lesson 7. She was talking about James 5:7, how James tells us we must wait for the autumn and spring rains. The lesson was called Between the Rain.  The rain, being when God is so vividly showing Himself, pouring Himself into us, that we can hardly stand.  Have you ever been there? I have and I love it.  I have always disliked the between until today.  Beth explained how a crop would never grow with deep roots if the rain never stopped.  That God was still there during those times, working inside and around us, He just wasn’t as visible, it was our chance to grow.

I’ve been praying to see Him more just wasn’t calling it “rain” but knew I was having a dry time so I was joking around with God after Bible study, telling Him I was finally feeling like he was sprinkling on me and I appreciate that but I wanted a downpour.

I left the church to run some errands and got the phone call.  The one everyone dreads.  The one telling you someone has passed away.  A beloved cousin has died.  39 years old.  Shocking, sad, heavy, but even in death, God orchestrates everything so beautifully.

My brother, his wife and kids took their annual trip to Arizona to see our family.  They were there last week.  My mom and her husband have been visiting my Aunt and Uncle for a few weeks now.  They all went out for dinner with Wayne last night and he passed away sometime after that.

I was trying to soak all this in, talked to my sister, talked to my mom who is still there, praying for my aunt and uncle, trying to finish up errands and think.  I was trying to comprehend the death of someone so young, death in general, the pain of the family and I shake my head and in my way of pushing thoughts aside, I decide I need a mocha.

As I pull into Starbucks, I start thinking about needs food. That stranger God has used to teach me so much.  I was thinking, “God, I need food, I don’t need a sprinkle, I need rain.  I want to see You fully, in everything.”

I order my half caff., skinny, no whip mocha and pull up.  I’m searching frantically for my debit card.  I just had it, I ran errands, I just used it.  Finally, I found it, pull to the window to hand it in to the clerk when she says, “No charge.”

I said, “What?”

She said, “The guy in front of you paid for it.”

I looked at the gal and said, “Wow, what a blessing.”

The truck had already pulled off so I couldn’t thank him or tell him how much it meant that he fed me, that God had just used Him for a downpour.

How can a God that is so huge care so much about me that He’d provide me such a blessing, insignificant to some, but huge to me, food, a downpour.  I needed to see how much He loved me despite what was going on.

He will never cease to amaze me!  Ask Him for rain then expect a downpour!

He Needs Food

There is nothing cooler when you hear God’s voice so plain it gives you goose bumps.  I got to hear him so plainly last night that I’m still grinning about it!

I left the church about 5:35 last night, stopped to get food and then on to a band meeting at the high school at 6:00 pm.  I stopped at a Dairy Queen that is right by the church so I can eat my food in the car on the way to the meeting.  I had a mocha for breakfast, a cheese sandwich for an early lunch so needless to say, I was hungry.

This particular Dairy Queen does not face the street, it sits sideways along the road, so as I wait for my food, I can’t see the road because the building is blocking it but on the right side there is a strip mall and a huge parking lot.

I sat and waited for my food and watched the parking lot.  Cars were leaving, cars were pulling in and parking, people getting out, nothing unusual.  Then I saw a guy, a younger guy, maybe early twenties, skinny.  Not really sure where he came from because I didn’t see him get out of a car but I watched him walk through the lot.  As I watched him, I heard God speak.  Not a loud audible voice but softly, in my mind, very clearly, He said, “He needs food.”

Now, I’ve heard God speak lots of times.  Sometimes recognizing Him and obeying, sometimes not recognizing Him at all and sometimes, recognizing Him but simply choosing not to obey.  But this time, I was ready to answer the call only I had a problem, I had no food and he was so far across the lot I couldn’t really yell from my car in the line.  As I continued to sit at the window, waiting and waiting and waiting for my food, the guy disappears.

I sit and wait some more, at what felt like hours but really was about another five minutes.  I knew the guy was gone.  No way to find him, no way to feed him and I wondered why God would say, “He needs food,” then have him disappear.  The funny thing about God, He knows how it’s all going to work out.

I finally got my box of food, pulled around the building to the end of the parking lot and there, standing at the corner, is the guy with a sign that simply read, “Need food.”

Whew, I was blown away.  I quickly pulled up next to him, rolled down my window and handed him my box of food.  He thanked me.  As I waited to pull out on the main road, I watched him walk to the outside tables at Dairy Queen, sit down and devour a chicken sandwich and fries.  Had I not already sucked down over half my drink I would’ve given him that, too.

I drove to my meeting with my stomach growling and I wondered how many people we walk by each day who “need food”, maybe not physical food but food in other forms, like a kind word, a hug, help doing something, or just someone to talk to.  Let’s slow down and show Jesus to others through our actions.  Look around and see who needs food!  Listen for his voice!  He’s talking!

If you’ve heard His voice, share below, I’d love to hear how He’s talking to you!!

Squeaky Wheel

Cheeks is one of our lovely, cuddly, black and white hamsters.  I love Cheeks.  He sits in his cage on a TV tray in my son’s room across from ours.  He eats, sleeps, but his two favorite things to do in this world is to run on his wheel and try to get out of his cage.

I’m all for Cheeks’ obsession with exercise only when the little guy is working his little legs all night and keeping me awake, we have a problem.  So I broke down and bought the little guy a new wheel and put his old squeaky wheel on the floor, under the TV tray.

One morning, after a squeakless sleep, my son gets up to find Cheeks is gone.  Master escape artist.  I look around the room, which is heaven to a rodent, scattered clothes, toys, and books everywhere.  I’m thinking we’ll never find Cheeks, he’s lost in the clutter forever.  All of a sudden, I hear the squeaking of a wheel.

Cheeks had gone to all the trouble of escaping the cage then he either climbed down, fell, or jumped, off the TV tray to land on the floor.  He was free.  He had the whole entire room, the entire house to run in yet he saw his old wheel.  It was comfortable, it was what he knew.  He climbed back on it and began to run.

He was free for a glorious moment then chose to stay in the confines of the wheel.  Not as confined as he was while in the cage but confided nonetheless.

Do you ever feel like Cheeks?  You go into your prayer closet, lay your problems at Jesus’ feet, asking for forgiveness, to forget the past, to change.  You say amen and you feel free-er only to find yourself taking back some of those things as you leave.  Maybe because they are comfortable, maybe they are your default, maybe they are what you know.

Let’s not just get free from the cage, but let’s get off the squeaky wheel.  Let’s forget what is behind us and press on to the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Road Kill

The kids and I piled into car, stopped by the post office and the bank then headed towards the schools.  The kids were chattering away, the music was softly playing in the background, and my mind was going over my list of a million things to do.  I saw a blob on the side of the road.   It was road kill.  Not just any road kill but a small beagle puppy.

I immediately said, “Oh, did you see that poor beagle puppy?”  Not a smart thing to do with kids in the car.  Luckily only one of my kids was paying attention.

She said, “No where?” craning her neck.  “Is it alive?”

God spoke tenderly to my heart, Go back and check.

I responded to her, ignoring God’s voice, “I doubt it.  Its legs looked pretty stiff.”

Go check.

I turn the music up louder and began to hum but when God wants you to do something you can’t block Him out.  My stomach started to knot up.

God decides to really get my attention by speaking through my daughter, “Mom, you’re going to stop and see if it’s alive, aren’t you?”

“Sure,” I said, with no intention of following through.

Go check.

I began my excuses to God.  ‘I’m way too busy, don’t have time to stop for a dead dog.  What would I do with a dead dog?  And if by some miracle it’s not dead, I’ve got scoop it up and put it in my van?  Find a vet?  I don’t have the money.  No, I’m much too busy.  Someone else will stop.’

Go check.

I continued my excuses.  You can’t mean for me to go to the side of the road and see if this puppy is alive?  I know it’s dead, its legs were stiff.  If I drive up to this dog on the side of the road, all of these parents taking their kids to school will think I hit it.  No, I can’t do that, I have an image to uphold.

God knew He wasn’t getting anywhere so He used my daughter, again.  She said, “Even if it is dead it might have a collar, you could call the owners.”

Arg, God had every intention of stopping the bustle of my busy day to make me obey Him by stopping for this dead dog.

I give a heavy, unenthusiastic, almost angered sigh.  Gritting my teeth I put on my nice face and turn to my daughter, and God, and say, “I’ll take a look at the dog.”

Relieved, although not happy, I’ve made my decision to obey Him.  I begin my strategy.  If I pull my van on the wrong side of the road facing the dog, people will know I’m there to help and they won’t think I hit it.  They’ll see me doing something good.

I went further wondering what I could use to scoop it up if it’s not dead?  Will it bleed all over my car?  Will it bight me?  What about cooties, will I get them?

Pretty sad, huh?

I pulled up to the dog and he was dead and had no collar.  I left him sad and ashamed.  My only concern was what would people think?  Would I get my hands dirty and if I did, by gosh, I was going to make sure somebody knew I did I something good.  All glory to me.

That’s not servanthood.  That’s not how Christ wants us to act.  He came down to this earth into the vileness of sin.  He didn’t ask His Heavenly Father, “What will the angels think?  What will Satan think?  Do I have to?  Okay, I’ll come down but I am a King, let me enter the earth with trumpets blaring, a royal robe and a crown so big everyone will see it!”

No, our Savior came to this earth as unfertilized egg, then an embryo, then a baby born in a stinky, smelly stable only to have the sins of the world heaped upon Him and die on a cross. His concern was not for Himself or His inconvenience but for each one of us.

Take the time to put aside your pride and see where God is leading you to serve.  Whether it be helping the poor, working at a shelter, cleaning the church, taking food to a hurting family, making a phone call to a lonely neighbor, sending a card…whatever you do, do it to glorify our Lord.   The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’   Matthew 25:40 NIV