Burn Baby Burn

“I saw a copperhead!” This was all it took to get my mom wholeheartedly set on burning the 20’ x 20’ and 3 foot deep leaf and lawn clipping pile in the backyard. “It is housing rodent and snake nests. It needs to go!” So, despite the week’s rain and the wind advisory for the day, the fire department came and gave us their approval and our permit to burn the pile. With a hose handy and my husband as sentry lest the flames go astray, the burning commenced.

There is a song by Hillsong whose lyrics are “I will never be the same again…Whatever you need to do, Lord, do in me…sweep away the darkness, burn away the chaff, and let the flame burn to glorify Your Name.” I couldn’t help but sing that as I watched the process of burning the pile. It was tedious. There was resistant fodder as beneath the surface was wetter than the top and the pile was so deep that the cinders just seemed to sink and smolder without making progress. Something we wished had taken just a few hours ended up needing to be a several day ordeal.

Not unlike we humans trying to deal with our sin…we think/hope that when we come to believe in Jesus, our sins are forgiven so our struggles should disappear and we begin being our perfect Christian selves in the blink of an eye, right? Um, no. The Apostle Paul describes it hilariously, but exactly – our knowledge of the perfect One, and His desire for us to live a better way, simply makes us aware of our sins, so we struggle even more as we recognize their control over us. Paul says: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep doing.” (Romans 7:15,19). The devil, satan, the serpent – more crafty than any beast – successfully tempted Eve and Adam (Gen 3:1-6), and snakes, rats and mice, deemed unclean by the Lord (Lev 11:29-31), will always be the metaphors for nuisances in our lives that seek ways to create a wedge between us and our Father. Paul comes to this conclusion: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death [because of my sinfulness]? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24-35

We must seek to burn away the things in our lives that create a disruption in our relationship with the triune God. And just as our backyard fire took tending and patience for the fire to burn away the stuff that had been there a looong time, and was deep-seeded, so we must be diligent and patient in burning away the things in our lives that have been there a while. It won’t be overnight, and we can’t do it ourselves! But the closer we get to Jesus, the easier it becomes because He helps us to burn away the chaff. In the App series The Chosen, Mary Magdalene, who was healed by Jesus, relapsed into sin. She knew Jesus’s redemption, and the joy that held, but sadly, slid into old habits. When friends wooed her back to Jesus she told Jesus that she was so ashamed. She said she “threw away” her redemption He had given her. He then asked her “what kind of redemption would it be if you could throw it away in one day?” He told her that He and the Father wanted her heart, and that they had it. He said she wouldn’t be rid of sin and temptation until she is with Him for eternity, but for this life, once you give Him your heart, you are forever forgiven. (Season 2, Episode 6)

God’s enemy, and therefore our enemy, satan, would like nothing better than for us to be so lost and ashamed in our sin that we try to hide ourselves from our Savior. The evil one wants the snakes and the rats to have permanent residence. We need to perpetually clean house by staying close to our Redeemer. This allows God’s refining fire to do its cleansing and purifying work in us because until we are with God in our heavenly home, we will never be rid of the struggle against sin. When in heaven, we will be clothed in pure white, the filth of our sins having been washed away by the blood of the Lamb: Jesus Christ, the Righteous!

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