Yep, it's fire season! Major fires in our town yesterday. My daughter and I had to drive towards the fire to run a quick errand, and she asked me, "How do you think it started?" I didn't have a definitive answer, but I can safely say it started with a "small spark". Usually does.
In life, have you found yourself right smack dab in the middle of a huge fire and looked around wondering how it started?
Was it an accident?
Did someone intentionally 'start it'?
Could it have started by an oversight, possibly you were distracted and didn't even notice the curtain brushing up against the candle?
Regardless of HOW it started, or WHOSE fault it is, the wise thing to do (rather than speculating and evaluating who is to blame)would be to go grab a hose or a bucket of water and tend to the flame. Try to limit the damaging effect. Prevent it from spreading further, and destroying more. Trust me, God will allow us to experience natural consequences that will hopefully draw us back to Him. That way we don't return to the same behavior that may have caused the whole thing to go up in flames!
Let me be transparent, I've caused major fires in my own life. There may have been 'contributing factors', yet I was ultimately responsible for rubbing those 2 sticks together that created that spark. But what made the difference in the destruction was a lot of outside influences. The temperature outside can make a fire worse...so can the 'climate' of a room full of people. Extreme heat can fan the flames...and so can extremely 'heated' people. Are we responsible for keeping the flame hot, or for helping it die down. Are we throwing more kindling on the flame so it bursts into a blaze? And what about the wind? What a nightmare that can be for some of these Wild Fires, it spreads out of control!
I'm sure that won't be the last fire that I will be responsible for starting. (I can be a slow learner.) And I'm grateful for the lessons I learned going 'through' it. I took responsibility and owned what I needed to. Didn't blame everyone for my mistakes. And I am mostly grateful for those who came along side me (in the midst of my crazy poor decisions)...and loved me anyway. In spite of me. The love that my Father in heaven has for me. The love that doesn't make me 'clean up my act first'.
Were there consequences? You bet. And the people who walked with me through it didn't excuse my sin or endorse it in any way. And their love toward me didn't let me off the hook. It gave me grace that I didn't deserve. But that's what grace actually is. Unmerited favor. I did nothing to earn it in the first place.
I pray that as we see fires in our own backyards (literally AND figuratively), that we do our best not to fan the flames...but we help extinguish them. That we don't stand on the sidelines saying we don't want to get involved. That we become 'First Responders' rather than 'Armchair Quarterbacks'.
That we're wise enough not to pour on the lighter fluid to exasperate the problem.
Do I have this mastered? Not even close. I'm simply a combustible flame ready to happen. HELP!
"Brothers, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also. Bear (endure, carry) one another's burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it]. For if any person thinks himself to be somebody [too important to condescend to shoulder another's load] when he is nobody [of superiority except in his own estimation], he deceives and deludes and cheats himself."