“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11, NIV)
My husband was tearing down an old fence and bringing the wood to a burn pile. It was about 80 yards away and at the bottom of a gentle hill. I was inside with the kids. Suddenly, I heard him scream, “Help!”
I rushed outside to find that the flames had spread to the surrounding grass and was out of control. It took only seconds for the dry grass to ignite. My husband was beating the flames with a shovel to put them out. I ran to the shed, grabbed the other shovel, and ran down the hill as fast as I could go. We worked frantically to put out the flames one by one.
Every time we put out one flame, another seemed to creep up through the grass. I felt panic as I imagined my children in the house without any warning of an approaching fire. We coordinated our efforts to drive the fire between us and eventually, by the grace of God, put it out.
We were both exhausted and collapsed on the grass, our faces and clothes covered in black soot. The whole ordeal only took about five minutes, but it felt like we had been at it for hours! Thankfully, we were all safe and our house was still standing.
We lived in this rural area for eight years and saw this happen two more times on our neighbor’s property. Each time, we all worked together to put the flames out. The same feeling of panic overtook me. It was a feeling of helplessness. I knew at any moment, if the fire moved any faster, we wouldn’t stand a chance of containing it.
During worship one Sunday, they played a song about Jesus being a fire. Our worship leader commented that Jesus is a fire in our hearts and our lives who can’t be contained or controlled. Though I had sung the words many times, I never really saw Jesus as a fire in my life. As I learned the hard way, fires aren’t easily controlled. No matter how hard we work to contain them, they can always find a way to break free.
That is how my worship leader was describing Jesus coming into our lives. When we let Him in expecting that He will stay in the corner until worship, we are in for a surprise. He doesn’t stop at Sunday. He wants every day. He doesn’t leave the things that are really important to us and just take the churchy stuff. He wants it all.
I had never truly become helpless before God. The panic I experienced about letting Someone else have control has always caused me to grip the reins even tighter. I had to learn to let go and let Him burn what needed burning instead of trying to chose.
Today, whenever I worship, I have a new understanding of Jesus being a fire in my heart. I imagine Him burning in me and consuming everything that I need to let go of. I see my life as a field, burnt to a crisp, made fertile by the ashes, ready to burst with new life.
Dear Jesus, You are a flame in our hearts. Let us be open to You as You move in our worship and move in our lives. Help us let go of the things that stop us from letting You in.