Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Of Fire and Water

The whole dance, or drama, or pattern of this three-Personal life is to be played out in each one of us: or (putting it the other way round) each one of us has got to enter that pattern, take his place in that dance. There is no other way to the happiness for which we were made. Good things as well as bad, you know, are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm you must stand by the fire: if you want to get wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of reality. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry. Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever? Once a man is separated from God, what can he do but wither and die? - C.S. Lewis

If you want to be warm, you must stand by the fire; if you want to be wet, you must get in the water.   We would all agree that it is good to be clean, and good to be warm - but it is hard not to think that we might too be burned or drowned.  As in previous posts, it has been mentioned, by Luther perhaps, that Christ is not valued at all unless he be valued above all.  I worry that there are two dances here - one that means life, and another, though life-like, is to death.  What I love about the above quote is that it divided clearly - that to be cold while in the fold we call "grace" is to question how close we are to the work He has ordained in our life.

Have you ever seriously considered that to be in the cold means that we might not have seen the Holy Fire of Hebrews at all?  To not be wet means the Living Water of the Gospels has never covered us over - regardless of the acts of our life.  Man is drawn to moral ends, even so-called good end.  But they, according to Paul, can be without love, and without love they are nothing - false warmth and false water.  

Two examples.   Alcohol and central heating.  Both provide the terms laid out above - one is liquid and the other is heat.  But alcohol is actually a dehydrator (hence the hangover when too much has been consumed).  I own a wood stove, and we use it as our primary heating source. The interesting thing about wood heat is that it resembles only one other thing in the universe in terms of the radiant heat it provides (almost dense in texture), so that anyone who walks into our home almost immediately remarks about it.  The Sun.  And I heard recently a interesting explanation to that ends recently from our midwife's husband, an arborist by trade, and worshipper of God in creation quite unlike anyone I have met before.  One might say that he exudes the stuff that would make the rocks cry out.  Anyway, he told us that wood heat is like the sun in that it uses the sun's energy as the tree grows.  It is the primary source of life outside the soil that anchors it to the earth.  As the tree grows, it stores that energy deep within it's core, and upon burning (they too use a wood stove as their primary heat), it releases that energy.  Or better said - it radiates it.  It warms you to the bone like a sunny day (rare around here lately - which makes it appreciated even more).  Central heat (gas, oil, etc.) is consistent, and is heat by every real definition, but lacks every radiant characteristic.  It lacks heart.  It lacks soul.

There are times that are difficult - and even ones that we could claim as seasons in our life which allow us to forsake the core needs of our faith - to be close to Him.  But in our core, we should radiate that hope that has been planted in us regardless.  If we don't, or can't, then perhaps there was never any sun to start with.  We lack soul.  We are a image of the thing, but being a image is what we were given at creation.  And that alone is not a pass into grace, and in fact is what condemns us.

So, as part of this great dance, this great work of hope and grace that is both worship and testimony of His glory - we must be willing to get close enough to the fire to be refined, and deep enough in the water to be washed.  But really, to take that on, we have to not just want it, but need it, because without it, we would whither and die.   


Blogger Patso8 said...

Good word Jefro, have you tried alcohol and oil heat...almost as good!

12:04 PM  

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