Hey there! How’s everybody doing? Hope all is well! Grab a glass of tea and find a comfy spot. Our prayers are still going out to those in the west where the wildfires have been raging all summer. As I write this, they are still going in several states. We pray for those people who have been displaced from their homes, and the firefighters who are risking their lives to contain these fires, not to mention the wildlife that is being affected. Without detracting in any way from the pain and loss being caused, there are some positives from a wildfire.
A wildfire will clean out old diseased trees so they don’t infect new growth. It clears out underbrush that would sap nutrients from other larger trees. The intense heat actually releases nutrients from the burning materials and releases it back into the soil, sort of like a fertilizer.
I was reading a bit of “Flame” by St. John of the Cross today, from the book “The Impact of God”, by Father Iain Matthew. St. John speaks of the presence of God, of His love, His Spirit, as a flame that comes to our souls and wants to consume us completely. He wants to get to the true center of our soul. He wants to ravish us with His love. He wants to be intimate, and at the same time, He comes as a cleansing fire, much like the wildfires in the forests.
So often, we rush into pray, drop our list of ‘gimme’s and rush back out, thinking we’ve been with the Lord. But to truly be with Him requires time, requires stillness, requires openness and requires acquiescence. It takes desire on our part to sit still for the process. It takes stillness to simply listen, and to just ‘be’ in His presence, whether we can feel that presence or not. Sometimes we don’t. Usually those are the times we gain the most. He rewards such seeking in ways that only show up much later, in most cases.
Our lives can become much like the forests of old growth. Diseased and decayed areas, places full of the ‘underbrush’ of life – busyness beyond reason, chasing things that don’t really matter, keeping up with society and the Joneses. Not to mention social media! How many hours do we spend each week with our phones, our tablets, our laptops? How often do we neglect even saying ‘hi!’ to the Lord, because we want to check one more post…
Sometimes, when He comes to us and we are actually receptive, it may feel like a flame of fire, burning us – it can be painful to see the truth and then to let Him remove the things from our lives that are keeping us from Him. Sometimes we shy away from it. We try to evade His clear and gentle beckoning. But when we stand still and let Him burn away the brush, the true trees of character and love for Him can flourish in fresh Sonlight.
If we will stand still and allow His flaming love to set us free from all that entangles us – the vines, dead branches, brush, etc., we can also feel the flames as love, and not as punishment or correction or discipline. We can feel His love. His love of the Bridegroom for His beloved Bride. We are the Bride of Christ. The flames of His love will make us radiant, full of His flaming love, and able to reflect and spread it to the world around us. We become so full of His love, and respond with a fullness of love for Him that would do anything to have more of Him in us. I think that’s what David meant in Psalm 42 – “As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs for you, O Lord.”
Let me share a few lines with you…
Flame, alive, compelling,
yet tender past all telling,
reaching to the secret center of my soul!
Since now evasion’s over,
finish your work, my Lover,
break the last thread, wound me and make me whole!
When was the last time you were engulfed with flaming love for Him? Or felt His strong love for you? Do you need to go to a quiet place and spend time with Him? Or maybe you need to talk to someone about your relationship with the Lord, or maybe even consider the possibility. Find a pastor or priest. They will be happy to listen and help you find that love-filled relationship with Him.