The shadows and the fire

I feel like a burning coal, a piece of coal that is between the state of going cold or igniting into a symphony  of crackling flames and gusts of smoke (You get the picture).

 I know that there is so much more to my life, but here I am. I know I need to reach my family, students, neighbors, and the other random people in my life. I know I need to seek to deepen my relationship with Christ. I know it because I feel the yearning and desire burn in me whenever I hear a story about serving others and being that testimony. I know . . . I can feel the simmer in my chest, the build-up of tears in my eyes. . .

Yet, I go about my day and worry about the image I am presenting. Do people like me? I wish for the latest techy gadget or brand new shoe that will make me pop when I walk. I hurry home and count down the minutes to my favorite show. I revel in my days off work where I can shop and hang out with family and friends. I mutter angrily at the mysterious person who cuts me off in traffic and makes my drive longer. I think about when and where to buy my favorite foods. I complain and gripe about the people who annoy me and treat without the respect I deserve. I worry about how I talk and oh, my do I really look good in that Facebook picture? I worry and forget about what I am really here for, but there is always that yearning for more, to be more.

On mission trips the flame ignites. No, mission trips are not picturesque campfire adventures. They have their own difficulties –lack of air conditioning, cold running water, a person that rubs me the wrong way, completing a task totally out of my comfort zone, yet my purpose is clear. I am there to serve others and hopefully orchestrate them to the God I love so much. My relationship with God grows as I seek and rely on Him. It is amazing. It is wonderful. I see God working. I see myself being used by God and I truly feel like a disciple of His. Then I go home. . .

I still have the fire for a while. A day, a week, a month, and then I get on social media and watch my favorite shows. Football seasons starts. A major or minor crisis happens in the family. I get a new boss. Work feels like a new reality show possibility. I go to church and sometimes make mental lists of what I need to do for next week. Occasionally, I read another Biblical devotional about what my life in Christ should be and the coal within me burns red. I share with others. I listen to Chris Tomlin. Then I think about the new sports watch I might want to buy. I discuss the latest celebrity gossip; mentally snicker at the girl who is making a scene in the store; and worry that someone saw me trip over a crack in the sidewalk or heard that stutter I made over a word.

Meanwhile, the coal in me continues to flicker. I go about my day knowing and aware, but I fear rejection, being labeled “uncool” and telling God’s story all wrong, so I sit on the fence between the dancing shadows and light that are both tugging at my heart. My heart really wants to be ignited, but the shadows tickle those other desires. It makes me sad.

I often feel like Peter, longing so much to love Jesus and please Him, but messing it up more often than not. I usually drown, cut off an ear, lie, or stare uncomprehendingly at Jesus when He keeps repeating “If you love me, feed my sheep.” Yet, Jesus had hope in Peter and a plan for him. Jesus has a plan for me too and one day my passion for Christ will reflect itself in my everyday life. The flame will be ignited and the dancing shadows will be only what they really are—dim shadows.




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