Did you see the finale of Survivor this year? The moment where the two contestants have to perform the fire making challenge. The moment where everything rests on that little spark of flame being nurtured and protected and fanned into a fire burning through a rope.
That little spark is everything. Keeping that flame alive. Their place in the game depended on their ability to burn through that rope.
Life, in this moment, feels a little like that fire making challenge. The constant demand of the news and culture to pay attention to who is arguing with whom and who is throwing rocks, literally. The demand of simply life with a family full of schedules and laundry and meals and the need to be heard. The demand of my emotions and my body.
There needs to be a moment where all the attention is on that little flame that brings life. The spark that can become a flame bringing life and warmth and renewal. It needs attention.
I can feel my irritation build through the days, my impatience and my uncertainty. It comes out in snaps to the children….when they have really done nothing wrong. It comes out in that desire to simply stay in bed in the morning. It comes out in the awareness that I need something, Someone, beyond myself in the midst of all of this life. The irritation and the impatience are the fruit of all the chaos around me. I feel out of control and that feeling has to manifest somehow.
In those moments, when I realize why I am snapping and being impatient, I have to turn the attention away from what is feeding the chaos.
I have to hear whispers of the faith that come in the moments of the day. Reminders of God’s faithfulness. Reminders of His grace. Reminders of His wisdom and His plan. They catch my attention and I find the irritation and the impatience and the uncertainty retreat in the midst of Truth.
“I got there as the saints were marching in
I sat down on the back row
and heard the story once again.
And the servants of the secret fire
were gathered there
the embers of the ages
like a living prayer
And all at once I saw the shadows flee
Shine Your light on Me
Be a light unto my path
and a lamp unto my feet.”
Andrew Peterson’s “Shine Your Light on Me”. I was driving down the road, windows down and sun shining, when this came up on my playlist. Words that remind me there is a struggle, but there is also One who brings help. And, reminds me that I am not alone. Servants of the secret fire.
I need those reminders, and I need to act on the truths they bring to mind. I approached a few friends about starting a book club, a chance to meet and talk about our faith in a more intentional and intimate way than I have in other situations. We are reading J.I. Packer’s Knowing God. The information is not new, but the chance to discuss is so refreshing. The awareness that we are not alone, that we can encourage and learn from each other.
I know I am not saying anything new. Yes, we need to think about our faith. Yes, we need to talk to friends about our faith. Yes, songs inspire us, especially well written songs. Yep, got that, thanks for the reminder!
I’m saying a little more, though: I’m saying in the midst of these storms of dialog about gender identity and this crazy election season, and the stresses of so many being overworked, or unemployed…we need even more intention to think about our faith. We need those friends to talk with who remind us of the reality of a Creator God, a God who moves history in a certain direction. A God who brings healing and refreshing, who breathes life into our reality.
We need to intentionally lash ourselves to these friends and to this truth. Have you heard that phrase…”Lash yourselves to (fill in the blank).”? Ulysses used it, when he was sailing his ship past the Sirens and he wanted to hear them, but he knew if the crew of his ship heard the Sirens they would be destroyed. So he put wax in the ears of his crew and had them lash him to the mast of the ship. He could hear the Sirens, but the crew focused on the task. He knew, in the moment before the confusion came, that he needed to protect himself and he needed to make choices that would carry him through the confusion.
Sitting around a table, sipping coffee, laughing and talking about God…I am lashing myself to the mast. I am making a choice in the midst of a moment of calm to do something that will carry me through moments of confusion.
We so need this in our lives. Find someone, find something that speaks life into your reality…and lash yourself to them, to it. In the moments of calm, intentionally turn your direction to learning how to fan that spark into a flame. Then, when the test comes, when everything is on the line, you will be prepared.
When the news unsettles you, when the FaceBook feed infuriates you…go back to the ancient Truths. Again, a little help from Andrew Peterson. Have you heard his music? If you haven’t, click on the video below and be encouraged. Then go listen to a few more of his songs. I quote Frederick Buechner and G.K. Chesterton here quite a lot, now is a chance to introduce you to another favorite. Feeling overwhelmed this morning? Go listen for a bit…
“Go back, go back to the ancient paths
Lash your heart to the ancient mast
And hold on, boy, whatever you do
To the hope that’s taken hold of you
And you’ll find your way
You’ll find your way
If love is what you’re looking for
The old roads lead to an open door
And you’ll find your way
You’ll find your way