by - February 27, 2020

The ashes smeared onto my forehead were to represent dust, but I couldn't help wondering what exact "thing" burned to provide the ashes for us to wear dust for a day.

I rehearsed all the biblical fire that came to mind as I returned to my pew to kneel, head ashed:

  • The angel touching Isaiah with the burning coal before the vision of Jesus' throne.
  • Moses' fascination with a bush that burned but wasn't consumed, inviting him closer.
  • Sodom. And Gomorrah.
  • The bright, shining descriptions of Jesus as he will be when he returns to finish what he started.
  • The heaping of burning coals on their heads which is the very kindness of feeding of your enemy simply because he's hungry.
  • A pillar of fire by night. (God led them in circles for 40 years?!)
  • Burnt offerings.
  • The various lamp stands scattered throughout from Genesis to Revelation.
  • Four in the fiery furnace.
  • The tongues of fire resting above 120 believers on the Day Jesus told them to wait for, the ones who didn't give up the waiting.
  • Hell and Holy Spirit both.

What can all this fire in scripture mean? Is there a trail of ashes (and no ashes) that tells a unified story of the flame somehow?

I felt humbled yesterday behind my ash-stained forehead thinking of my frailty in comparison to fire in all its varieties. The ashes are the ruin, what's left after fire's deadly fury. They speak of finality and complete consumption. I am defenseless. Fire wins every time. Like I said — humbled.

Feeling exposed, I leaned into the One who made both the earth and the heavens, the sun-fire and the moon, the fire that destroys and the fire that purifies, the fires he inflicts and the fires from which he delivers, fires so dangerous they are my potential undoing in every form and context.

I utterly need him because, without him, I am and will only ever be burnt dust.

And then one more biblical fire came to mind:  the flame of our giftings we are to fan. I realize suddenly that all the fire that was and is and is to come breathes. Every fire is full of life, and God is the one who breathes life. Every fire serves his purpose then, even if it appears to destroy and reduce to ash. And even if we never understand why so many things have to burn, may we be reminded that we are frail, and He is a consuming fire.

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  1. Your authenticity is inspiring, your reflection intriguing & thought-provoking...thank you for encouraging us to lean into the only One, even when the fire of suffering reduces us to ash...He makes a new, breathes in new life, makes another day new


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