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Fighting Fire

July 7, 2013

Nineteen elite firefighters ranging in age from 21 to 43 were killed last week in an Arizona blaze.  This post is dedicated to them.

Firefighter, Cleveland National Forest, Photo by Calforester (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported, GFDL 1.2 or later)

God’s creation is stunning in its beauty and complexity. Fire, for instance, serves a purpose in nature we are only now beginning to understand.

The beauty of God’s creation extends to the best aspects of man’s character. The devotion and self-sacrifice of firefighters is amazing. “Smoke jumpers” actually enjoy their work!

However, human efforts by themselves are inadequate – whether to control fire in the natural world, or bridge the spiritual chasm between God and man. Every approach human beings have, thus far, taken toward wildfire management has failed over the long haul and/or given rise to new problems. Far more so with spiritual issues:  we are nothing without God and no substitute for Him.

The small, inglorious tasks are often those which shape and define us.  Despite technologic advancements, wildfires are still fought one man and one woman at a time.  Underbrush, dried grass, and other potential fuels must be cleared laboriously and at great risk, by hand.

Heroism lies in continuing what – to us, at least – may seem a hopeless fight.  Some wildfires are so vast and fast moving, they cannot be put out. Firefighters must fall back repeatedly, yet they fight on.  Some of the spiritual battles we face are this daunting.  But, as Christians, we fight in the knowledge that our war has been won.

“ ‘When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God…’ ” (Is. 43: 2-3).

Lord God, Your lessons are all around us. You seek in every possible way to teach us who You are, and draw us closer to You.

Again and again, we mistake Your glory for our own. Again and again, we see our own reflection where Your face should be. Forgive us, Father. Walk with us through the fire, despite that. You know our helplessness without You, even if we do not.

We ask this in His name who walked in the furnace with Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego.



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