The early summer morning smelled with the fragrance of mowed grass and wild flowers as we entered the alley behind our house.
The cartoons had just gotten over and now it was time to begin living out the adventures of the super heroes we had just watched.
Like most young boys, my brother and I had adventure oozing out of every thought and opportunity that lay before us. This day it was a stroll through the alley full of imaginary villains. As we cautiously moved forward we saw the open door of a neighbor’s garage wooing us as if with a magical pull. Moments into this spontaneous-crafted adventure, jumps from behind a pile of cardboard boxes a big German Shepard, with 3-inch teeth bared, barking and snarling at our intrusion.
This gigantic dog that was tied up behind the boxes was now barking to sound the alarm of the trespassers. Being scared out of our wits and committed to defend our 8-year-old heroic honor as seen on TV, we grabbed the box of wooden matches that seemed to be divinely placed on a counter in hands reach. It was a natural response to begin striking and throwing these perfect weapons at the man-eating dog to seal our victory.
Well, in seconds the smoke and flames began to dance from the pile of boxes between the dog and us.
The increased barking signaled the owner to come running and rescue the ferocious pet and, yes, you guessed it, the two juvenile neighborhood super heroes from the burning garage.
As the crowd assembled and the fire trucks roared down the alley I saw our season of becoming the city’s next super heroes fade as our father sternly walked us away to our house, which was to become a dungeon of torture for two little rambunctious boys who were grounded with what seemed to be a life sentence. But with skilled parents who knew how to pray, we were saved from becoming arsonists.
Let me say up front, there is never a time that arson is OK. Yet, God often in his word describes himself and his acts with fire.
John the Baptist, who was a prophetic voice and a forerunner to Jesus, says concerning Jesus in Matthew 3:11-12 “…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire… He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” In other words John is letting us know that Jesus is coming for and committed to a harvest that will be purged from any hindering thing. Christ is coming for a unblemished bride. Jesus is not only the Lord of the Harvest but comes as a fire to purge us and make us better.
I’m notjustifying my childhood actions, but the end of this story is that the neighbor’s old junk-filled garage was rebuilt to a new and useable garage. God’s fire in our lives isn’t bad, but is for clearing junk out so he can restore and rebuild us better for his work.
In the same manner, I can remember my grandfather would burn the weeds on the irrigation ditch every fall so that the new green grass would spring up full and healthy every spring.
Embrace God’s fire of sanctification in your life. Ecclesiastics 3:3 says there’s, “A time to break down, and a time to build up.” God’s fire is a good thing and will ultimately make you more useable for God’s purposes in your life.