I really like candles. I love how they bring a flicker of light and sighs of relief in a power failure; how they brighten the table and seem to usher in the holy when we sit down to eat. I love the atmosphere of calm they bring in to any room in which they glow. I marvel at how just one or a few can warm a room, and I always enjoy and soak myself in their welcome and warmth.
Before dinner, not long ago, I was blessed with a moment of reflection as I traced the stream of wax gracefully gliding down the side of the smooth pillar candle on our table back up to its wick:
The same fire that came at the striking of the match was that which lit the wick of the candle, and each produced rather different effects and results.
Two different compositions: wooden stick – rigid, brittle yet porous, and unprotected to the outside elements swirling within the room; and cotton wick – soft tightly woven strands anchored at the bottom and within an encasement of pearly white wax.
Two different compositions, two uniquely distinct materials within two different environments touched by the same flame.
When that flame ignites upon the match, it’s as if the combination of its porousness and the elements surrounding it seem to set it up to be rapidly devoured and consumed. So within a few seconds, the whole of it disappears either in a puff of wind, or as it is whipped about before it reaches fingertips, or fizzles out in last gasp and charred cinders at its last in the sink.
The wick though burned down to the surface of the cold wax. But no sooner was a hole bored than it was filled, and the wick continued to burn, consumed more in a rhythmic dance of harmonious relationship – replenished as much as replenishing the molten liquid in which it soaked, warming as much as being warmed by its core, its heat radiating outward to seep and waft into the world around it.
A heart, hard and stubborn, exposed and vulnerable yet resolute in resisting dependence on Provisional Flame; a heart shining brightly, but only once and only briefly. And a heart soft and willing, secure in its Anchor and protection, ready and welcoming of the chance to withstand but only briefly, to shine bold and bright, long and lasting.
But the house of Israel will not listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me; because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is hardened; he refuses to let the people go.” (Exodus 7:14)
Make me as the wick, Papa! Anchor me deep in you and surround me on every side, so that when your Fire comes to purify, to clean out the rubbish and debris, I welcome replacing all with your Light; so that I continue to delight in the knowledge that I will never be consumed, that I am free to touch and warm others, for you replenish me. Make me to always be reachable and teachable and eager for relationship with you, and soak me in the pools of your Spirit so my natural outpouring is willingness and availability. Make your Flame to ignite your Light to burn away all thoughts and attitudes and behaviours that have held me back. Make your Flame to extinguish all worry so that I claim your promises for myself, and proclaim them through your warmth in me to others. Make your Glory and delight-filled purposes to shine perpetually in and through me!
You know, I found out something pretty interesting about what remains behind when you blow out a candle that just doesn’t seem to compare with the same for a match. Apparently, the trail you see from its wick is not really smoke. No, that wisp actually contains remnant particles of wax that haven’t yet burned, and that remnant can be lit anew to relight the wick of the same candle, or another. (http://dailym.ai/2kq8gMl)
Interesting, isn’t it? And maybe even a bit encouraging .. just maybe a promise?
“You make the winds your messengers, fire and flame your ministers.”
Soil and Seed
Sometimes I wonder if, in the time God chooses to bring about His justice in a situation, He doesn’t also bring us (offender and offended) to the spiritual maturity to be ready for it when it comes. You know that period of time I’m speaking of? That period that seems to be stretched out like an elastic band as we impatiently wait for some sort of light on the horizon; while our spirits and minds and hearts remain crushed or tied up in knots? Well, I wonder if He doesn’t use the substance of this very chapter within His timing to our benefit; to guide and bring us to a place where we can genuinely accept and cooperate with Him when His justice dawns.
I wonder … It’s as if the (often painful) process of waiting contains a process within itself: a curriculum that follows a course designed to ready us for that Bright Day we ache to see, but one that entails steps that include the eviction of the poisons that infect our hearts and minds and spirits. And much like the regimen of any healthcare provider worth their mettle, our Gardener will expulse these contaminants by gently pressing on the super-sore-tender-spots to release and drain the toxic pus within so true regeneration can begin. He doesn’t do this for perverse pleasure, but so there instead can be bona fide healing upon which proper renewal and revival can soak into our hearts and minds and spirits, setting aright whatsoever has tripped up and wounded our bearings. Maybe readiness for His reparation requires complete absence of the foulness of septicity for it to be well-grounded and on solid footing.
Perhaps once there is no more ooze, only then I am really ready. Could it be too that at that precise moment (when perhaps all is aligned on all sides by Him?), His ruling takes place, and likely in a way more complete than I could have possibly imagined – and actually welcome?
Still, surely the Gardener’s Hand is in every moment leading up to that. It must be His Love that prods me toward that maturity. It must be His Hand pressing, solely because He so wants Health for us; wants that vile poison that clouds, that darkness that shrouds fully absent and far removed from us even more than we do, so we can spring forward in cooperation with His goodness!
We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8: 22-23)
We need only glimpse at just about any newsfeed to know that we all share in the common denominator of suffering. Whether hidden or copiously obvious, each of us have an or many infected abscess(es), and judging by the groanings and cries resounding in this world founded deep in the hearts of offended and offender, I wonder and even dare to think our Father might surely be pressing on them – pressing not because He is mean, but because He longs to bring us relief, to heal us and make us whole. And with each press, we have a choice. Do I put my hand over it, rub it or stir it up and generate more poison, more infection? (and just how, do tell, does this serve me longterm?) Or do I take my hand off and let our God move in to press it all out and away?
But while He aches in our suffering, while He never turns away from us, still He remains a gentleman, urging and prodding and allowing us the choice to ease off, to relent and allow Him to step in. So, I wonder if the longer I hold my shaking hand over or rub the sore, the longer it will take …?? Hmm … Imagine though! What might happen when I remove my hand from that blistering boil? I do remember a like situation when I was suffering terribly as a child, in a lot of pain; even so I kind of did and I didn’t want the doctor to step in and help provide relief… But oh, when she did! So here too, sure there will undoubtedly be a bout of pain, but it will soon be followed by immense relief, and joy-filled thankfulness, and ahhhhh, freedom! And right then, we become at once renewed as we are a part of that renewal, at once rejuvenated as a part of pouring in rejuvenation, at once receiving Life as a one shining with it!
So maybe, just maybe, however soon we are to see restitution and resolution has a lot to do with us, with how soon we release our trembling hand that protects and defends the ulcer to God’s gentle, tender and mighty Hand … ?
For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8: 24-25)
Your days of grief will come to an end. I, the Lord, will be your eternal light, more lasting than the sun and moon. (Isaiah 60:20)
Lord God, we are not puppets to You. No. We are your children. And You are our Loving Father – not loving us as the world calls or does love, but as our hearts and spirits ache and groan for. And yet, you love us even more than that! And in that very Love, your eyes are transfixed on us, and your Heart breaks as it sees our brokenness, our woundedness, our tender sores swollen with poison. Oh Father, how you run to heal comprehensively! Help our hearts to hear yours, to know Your safety and to lift our hands away from these open and oozing lesions that we tremble to defend and cover. Help us to see the Love and tear-filled determination in Your eyes as You lay your tender Hand upon each one’s surface and begin to gently press out the poison. Grant us the strength and the determination to stay the course, to keep our ears open to your Voice and eyes on Yours so that we come to smile and rejoice with You as the healing sunrise dawns on fuller Kingdom character and the glory, Your glory, of across-the-board renewal. Amen.
Soil and Seed