Observing God

Observing God February 25, 2021


I woke up last night at around 3:30 chilled to the bone. The chill wasn’t in the room. The heat was up and working perfectly. The chill was deep in my bones, which made me wonder if I was coming down with something. Not wanting to wake up my human heater (aka my husband) by snuggling closer, I switched on the heating pad, wrapped it around my middle, threw the covers over my shoulders, and went back to sleep. 

Fire hazard, I know. But it shuts off automatically, so don’t judge too harshly.

Speaking of fire, I’ve been cuddled up next to one for the second half of the day, hoping I feel better tomorrow. It’s mesmerizing, and it never gets old. The flames peak and then dwindle, peak, dwindle. I add more wood and a bit of paper or other kindling and woosh! The flames are tall again, warming me through and through. 

There’s a TV on a stand right next to the fireplace, but in the last week, it’s only been turned on once.

Some things are worth observing. Others may be worth watching in small quantities, but take them in large quantities and suddenly you’re brainwashed or unable to entertain yourself, or even stupid.

Facebook and sitcoms, I’m looking at you. 

A long session of fire gazing has me thinking about observation, though. What we observe, how we observe it, why we observe what we observe, etc. I’d be willing to bet that most of what we observe we observe unwittingly, or without any significant consideration. Billboards, magazine ads, social media, magazine articles, music, and other means of information and entertainment are constantly either at our fingertips, the checkout line, email inbox, or even the snail mail box.

When was the last time we purposely took a nice long walk to observe God’s creation? When was the last time we researched book titles, asked for some recommendations from intelligent friends or acquaintances, then bought and read them to the end? When was the last time we opened the Bible, asked God to search our hearts or show us Christ? Or both? 

The fire’s flames now are blue on the bottom, orange on the top. They continue to wave at me. Warm me. Cause my mind to wonder about things I never think about with a phone in my hand.

A log just fell and scared me. The other night, a loud popping sound occurred and a hot piece of kindling flew out and burned a small hole in the nearby carpet. Fires can be dangerous, unpredictable, comforting, mysterious, warming, life sustaining, entertaining, musical, and ambient. That’s how I would describe them, anyway.

Perhaps you would have different ways of describing a fire. Interestingly enough, the writer of Hebrews described God as a consuming fire, and what I observe about consuming fires is that they are to be respected, awed, feared, and revered. They are powerful, swift, and unpredictable. And while much of God can be predictable, because He is who He is (unchangeable), and He keeps His promises, the truth is that there’s an element to God and His ways and thoughts that are higher than ours. Different than ours. Better than ours. 

A consuming fire also needs to be observed. There’s never a time when, if I’ve started a fire, I walk away. Sure, I’ll go wash some clothes or my hair or take the dog out to do his duty. But I don’t leave for any length of time. A small, controlled fire can quickly become an all-consuming, uncontrolled fire.

God, as a consuming fire, needs constant observation. God the Father, yes. God the Son, yes! And God the Holy Spirit, yes. All three deserve our daily, hourly, and by the minute observation. There will always be an “otherness” about them, because we are the creation, not the Creator. And while much of the Christian life is about serving, not merely observing, the truth is this:

Serving without first observing leads to burnout. God is a jealous God. He wants our hearts and minds, first and foremost. He only wants our service as an outpouring of our love for Him, not as a means of acceptance by Him. As we tend our spiritual fire, God graciously keeps us burning with desire to serve Him. 

It’s that simple.

It’s that difficult.

So.

All those deep(ish) thoughts came from a simple willingness to observe a small fire in a small place by a small person with a small mind. A miracle in and of itself, really.

I hope you’ll stop long enough today to observe something that might bring your thoughts around to your Maker, because I think it will rejuvenate your mind, heart, and body. And who couldn’t use some of that?

As for me, I’m going to throw another log on.

 


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37 responses to “Observing God”

  1. Fire is the perfect metaphor for God. Your observations are true and essential about the Presence who will consume, consecrate, console, energize, whether we’re attending the blaze or trying snuff it out.

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