There are coals on the floor of our fireplace and my heart. Remnants of a blaze. The heat lingers but fuel is scant and wet. My love had wood on his mind when the sun was warming our backs in summer, and I couldn’t think of anything more important than furniture and house alterations and wedding details. His attention to our need now keeps us warm and electricity bills manageable. We stacked the wood collection in autumn colour and chill. That wood, wet and limited, then filled the lean-to. But now it’s dwindled to a little pile against the back wall of gaping boards. It’s been months of transferring wood to the fireplace, hours of tearing cardboard for kindling and coaxing flames only to watch the smoke smolder with the addition of moisture rich wood. We improvised and strategized. But nothing can compensate or camouflage our need for dry wood. As I cough my way through the smoke haze of another fire-building exercise to open windows to the frigid air, which we are trying to eradicate from the indoors, I sigh at the apparent futility of the situation and wonder if this fire is serving it’s primary purpose. Is a slow heating, fast cooling blaze worth the time it consumes? Would I save just as much by paying more and turning up the electric heat then I do on my knees blowing on coals, rearranging chunks of wood, and crumpling paper to encourage some lasting flames? Sitting by a well-earned blaze, I discover the rewards of persistence. I bask in the warmth and resolve to keep the fire hot.
But life allows for only so many moments of leisure at the fireside. And when I’m called away by duty and later return, a smoldering fire begs my help from the sitting room corner. As I open the fireplace doors with stifled frustration, He speaks from within, “this is the fuel you provide me for your heart’s fire. You’d burn clean and hot and bright with me as your fuel rather than your inadequate substitutions.” The smoke rolls over me and I smell pride discontent with insignificance, fear of criticism, apathetic efforts of discipline, self-righteous perfectionism, and an endless suffocating, incriminating list of motivations fueling a fire intended for the blazing glory of my Maker and the warmth of my neighbours. I gaze helpless into the smoke swirling in my face and heart. His whisper clears the choking despair, “I’m here. You can burn again.” I feel His breath and a draft of hunger courses through me. Coals hot with memory glow. I join Him in the soul communion of Divine presence and my surrendered worship, and flames begin to flicker.
There will be a blaze again. A trunk full of father-in-law provided wood scraps and the promise of a coming delivery of logs assure us the mail notices of increasing electricity costs will not leave us in the cold. And a persistent Saviour burns with me all of life’s winter long until the spring of eternity brings light and warmth of His blazing glory on the throne as King of kings and Lord of lords. My heart will never be as hot as then when all I am disintegrates in worship for all of Him. Sigh.