Let That Fire Within You Find Its Ground

October 5, 2022

by Jim Marsh, Jr., Bread of Life Church

I’ve come to start a fire…. 
 —Luke 12:49-56The Message

In the days when a hearth fire kept the family alive, our ancestors learned to bank the fire before they went to sleep, pushing the logs and coals together to preserve the slow burning. It was important to keep it smoldering through the night, ready to flame again in the morning. Just as a wild horse has to be broken, a home fire has to be tamed in the very same way. It can be friend or foe. My Boy Scout upbringing taught me this. Fire must be respected. And when boundaried, it will serve you. Play fast and loose and your life, and the forest around you, could be at stake.  

At dinner with two friends, the conversation fanned the flames of the work we were doing in the world. They asked about my call. All three of us grew up in different religious containers. I began venting about my own… the deep anger and despair I feel about how Christianity has lost its way, and how this old wineskin isn’t equipped for the new wine that’s coming. My voice, like a fireman in panic, crackled as a live wire loose from its ground, snaking towards gasoline. Judging from their reaction, I appeared to them as a lit stick of dynamite. They looked panicked too. The husband interrupted with a pleading cry, “You’re overwhelming me. I want to connect with you.” His outstretched hand parted the wine glasses like Moses did the Red Sea, and I reached out to meet him. Holding hands and a quiet gaze, my heart shifted. Breathing with his cadence, I felt the heat lessen as I slowly turned loose my clenching.  

Unbridled anger can burn a house down. With each intentional breath, the flame caught a deeper part of me that needed this refining fire. His wife raised her hand as if she had an idea. Holding up her thumb and forefinger, rubbing them together as if to make a flame, she allowed her hand to descend to the table, all the while saying, “let that fire within you find its ground.” 

Like the the ringing church bells that called to me as a boy, this calls to me now. Rest within the wood contained in the circle of stones, the ancestors who prayed for brighter fires. I must transform this anger, or else I transmit it. It needs to burn of sorrow, not anger, and for the honest desire to practice the better way. Only then will it be pure, shining brightly like those who have righteously burned before.

A new fire is in the hearth.

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