With a deep sigh of relief at the first rain in over five months in our area we can finally exhale and say the summer is over. I say ‘the’ summer because this has been the summer to remember or forget whatever your case may be. If you suffered property damage from the Carr Fire then the summer of 2018 will be hard to forget. Those who did not suffer loss from the Carr Fire can look back at this year and remember how fortunate they were to have escaped the horror that consumed the Northstate for over two months. Although the smoke has finally cleared the work of rebuilding the community will continue for the forseeable future.
We at River City were honored to house evacuees during those first intense days after the fire burned through northwest Redding. Our community came together to provide prayer support as well as food, clothing, and shelter for those who were forced to evacuate. The local evening news was filled with stories of our first responders doing incredible rescues and just being our heroes in our time of need. Slowly we began to experience hope that we could turn the corner from this disaster and begin to put the pieces back in place. For some this would be a lengthy process. To return to our properties after being evacuated for five days and finding nothing standing isn’t any easy thing to do. One of the most unexplainable things we saw when driving through the area was one house standing almost untouched while the two on either side were totally burned to the ground. Who can know the ways of a fire? Why the fire chose to incinerate two houses and leave another standing right next to it will forever be a mystery in my mind.
As the community began to rebuild, I find myself returning to that one particular question; who can know the ways of a fire? From the time Moses encountered God in the burning bush and asking why the bush hadn’t burned up, to John the Baptist declaring that the one coming after him would baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire, to the Apostle John’s description of Jesus’ eyes like a flame of fire there has always been something mysterious about the ways of a fire.
Hebrews 12:24-29 in the Passion Translation: And we have come to Jesus who established a new covenant with his blood sprinkled upon the mercy-seat; blood that continues to speak from heaven, ‘forgiveness,’ a better message than Abel’s blood that cries from the earth, “justice.” Make sure that you never refuse to listen to God when he speaks! For the God who spoke on earth from Sinai is the same God who now speaks from heaven. Those who heard him speak his living Word on earth found nowhere to hide, so what chance is there for us to escape if we turn our backs on God and refuse to hear his warnings as he speaks from heaven? The earth was rocked at the sound of his voice from the mountain, but now has he promised, “Once for all I will not only shake the systems of the world but also the unseen powers in the heavenly realm!” Now this phrase “once for all” clearly indicates the final removal of things that are shaking, that is the old order, so only what is unshakeable will remain. Since we are receiving our rights to an unshakeable kingdom we should be extremely thankful and offer God the purest worship that delights his heart as we lay down our lives in absolute surrender, filled with awe. For our God is a holy devouring (consuming) fire!
Several takeaways emerge from this passage of scripture but to briefly try to summarize I would offer you the following: Forgiveness supersedes justice; we don’t operate from fear, we love listening to God when he speaks (and he is speaking all the time); the systems of this world have a ‘shelf life’ of which we are coming very near to; we have the rights of succession to an unshakeable kingdom; he loves our pure worship; we are learning to live in total surrender; and my favorite, he has always been and forever will be a consuming fire!
Unfortunately this past summer we experienced a horrific fire, but realizing that the summer is over may we now turn our hearts toward heaven and embrace a new level of his presence (or fire) which brings to every hungry heart restoration, comfort, hope, and a new confidence and boldness that declares ‘your kingdom come your will be done in earth as it is in heaven!
Your next chapter in your journey in God is just around the corner. Race ahead and find out what that looks like. Replace reactionary with restoration, corrosion with comfort, helplessness with hope and experience how good God can really be! He is waiting to be more that just a Sunday morning to you. He longs to be your Monday thru Saturday “go to ” guy! You will never be disappointed when you give all your troubles, fears and insecurities to King Jesus!