Yesterday was a good day—a “real” Sunday. Winter does not want to let go in the mountains and the temperature was just cold enough to make it not an outside work day. So I stayed inside and made that second pot of coffee and began to clean the basement.
And then 5 o’clock church. One of my jobs is to make the coffee and I had several cups during the service. A guy from Serbia spoke and we had a real good time.
But it is now 3:30 am and I’m wide awake—well not really wide awake in the sense that I am not tired—just awake enough that I can’t lie in bed and toss and turn any longer.
I made great progress in simplifying my life yesterday—finding and taking to the dumpster several boxes of stuff that I determined were no longer worth keeping. The place I cleaned is still somewhat of a mess—just enough so that I won’t be able to leave it alone to long. So you know what I will be doing after dinner on Monday—finishing the job I began on Sunday.
A guy from a sister church saw a picture during our praise and worship time which he shared with us during the end of the service. He was a forestry major in college and what he saw was a big forest fire. He said, and I have no reason not to believe him, that a big fire sounds very much like a storm at the beach. As the fire burns quckly through a conifer woods, it makes a noise like a mighty wind.
One of the interesting parts of what he said was the fact that fire is actually a useful thing and is used to clean up and open up a forest that has become stagnant. I remember reading about that process many years ago but had never seen the spiritual componant to it until yesterday.
It seems that in conifer forests, the seeds for rebirth are in the cone that drops to the ground and that until a fire hits it, the cone stays tightly closed and rots instead of reproducing. However, because of development and so forth, we have hindered nature in it’s normal course of action. Instead of letting fires do their thing, we stop them or keep them from happening and then the undergrowth builds up and when they do happen, there is too much fuel and the heat of the fire actually destroys what it was meant to just open up. In other words, when the undergrowth is thin, the fire burns quickly through the forest and the trees are just scortched—not really burned badly. Then the forest is opened up and the seeds in the ground can get the sun they need to reproduce and in time will replenish the forest.
In a spiritual sense, trials and tribulations in our lives are the fire, that when understood, can do their work and get rid of the stuff that keeps us from reproducing. In a strange way, fires bring simplicity into our lives. All this stuff that we surround ourselves with is really not as important as what is going on inside of us. I am not going to get all eastern and mystical and say that stuff is an illusion, but I am beginning to understand that concept in a different way.
Many teachings I have listened to lately have stressed the fact that the unseen realm is really more real than what we can see with our natural eyes. In 1 Timothy 6:6 Paul tells us that “…godliness with contentment is great gain.”
He doesn’t imply that simply owning stuff will bring us happiness. We need stuff, don’t get me wrong. A chef needs good tools in order to prepare a great meal. But what I am beginning to see after these many years is this: growing in God and allowing him to develop our character is really what life is all about—not the acquistion of wealth and stuff. It puts new meaning into the verse about seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all the rest of what we need will be added unto us. He knows our needs even before we ask.
So—as I enter my work-week, I am going to be thankful for what I have and for the fires that have passed through my life in recent months. Today can really be a time of re-birth and spiritual growth like never before. Once winter unleashes its’ grip, spring will bring the fresh rains and warmth that we need in order to plant our gardens and watch them grow.
Enjoy the day.