I love fires.
When my wife and I were searching for our first house to buy together if we walked in and saw no fireplace in the living area we were out of there faster than…something really fast.
Sorry…scratch that last one. I just get carried away with fire.
Fires are wondrous. They provide warmth. They fill the darkness with beautiful light. They make food delicious. They give what I think is a fantastic smell (though it doesn’t smell too good in my beard later) and most importantly,
they bring people together.
In our world, I hear people using fire as a metaphor for so many areas of life.
We want God to light a fire in our hearts.
We want to burn with passion for the object of our affection.
We follow our callings like a raging fire deep within us.
As a people, we are enamored with the power of fire.
However, as with most things, fire can bring about big problems.
First off, if they are not carefully contained, they become one of the most destructive forces in our world. We have seen dozens, maybe even hundreds of reports of wildfires in California or Colorado destroying thousands of homes, displacing families,
even taking lives.
Fires without boundaries are dangerous.
But even when a fire is properly contained, there is one more problem.
They burn out!
A fire by its very nature is self-depleting because it consumes the very thing that gives is life and existence!
It doesn’t matter how much wood you pile on it, large, hot, raging fires burn out in a matter of minutes. Even giant bonfires don’t last more than an hour or two.
So allow me to ask an unpopular question:
When it comes to our lives; our creative and professional pursuits, our love lives, or our spiritual pursuits of God and purpose in this world,
Why would we want to be like a raging fire?
Burning like a wildfire within is like being Ricky Martin. Tell me honestly how many of his songs you can remember in the next 5 seconds.
Livin La Vida Loca.
Ricky Martin had one huge hit and then pretty much faded into obscurity, minus all the almost comical references to that song.
Ricky Martin burned like a raging fire…
For only a short moment.
Instead of living our lives searching for the heat and the brilliance of the great fire within us, what if we searched for something else?
What if we worked for a life of peace and purpose that lasts? One that can sustain the beauty, warmth, and purpose of our fire within for our entire lives?
What if instead of searching for the raging fire we sought to be like hot coals?
Hot coals to me are even more beautiful than dancing flames.
Have you ever really watched them? They do their own little dance that, unless you’re paying close attention, will go almost completely unnoticed! It’s like they just do it for themselves, and if you happen to see it, it’s an added bonus.
Coals still provide life-giving heat.
You can still cook on coals, and in most cases, food is better cooked at a lower temperature over more time. I’d rather eat something slow-cooked over coals than burnt to a crisp over flaming heat.
Coals still give light in the darkness.
Perhaps my favorite thing about coals is that while the light they provide is admittedly much less in volume, it forces me to do one thing
It forces me to draw nearer, and to pay closer attention.
And the last thing about coals…
They burn for hours.
Fires are wonderful.
But I’d rather be a bed of coals.
Next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. It is the start of the season known as Lent.
Many believe that Lent is only a Catholic observance where you give up something for 40 days. It is often seen as a pious ritual to just go through the rhythms, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Lent is a beautiful time of drawing near and paying closer attention to the movements of God in our life. Like a bed of coals, through this season of commitment, God draws us in to recognize the beautiful dance He is orchestrating all around us. He longs to provide us with the warmth, light, and provision we need to continue on for years to come.
I will be honest, I don’t really like just “giving something for Lent.”
If I do, it usually ends up being nothing more than a New Years Resolution 2.0 where I try to lay off sugar, or carbs, or chocolate in order to feel better and look better before the summer swimsuit season (yeah…guys worry about it too).
Much like my New Years Resolutions, I typically make it about 1/12 of the way through and give up painfully, only leading to more guilt and self-shaming about my minuscule willpower.
So forget that this year!
Instead, I have decided to give up my most precious commodity…
For the 40 days of Lent this year I will be committing to something called the Seven Sacred Pauses.
It is simply pausing for 5-10 minutes throughout the day to remember that we are more than just beings that work, eat, and sleep.
It is an intentional effort to recognize how beautiful life is and can be by pausing to take in the beauty of dawn, the work of our hands, the illumination of midday, and the slow, steady decline of light as our bodies move back toward rest for the night.
It is establishing a rhythm in our bodies, our minds, and our souls that draws us in close, like a bed of warm coals, in order to see God’s dance of life and to hear His voice saying,
“I am all around you. I have so much to give you. Let’s do this together.”
I want to invite you to join me this Lent season as I pause and focus on the beauty of life all around me;
as I work to live life as a bed of beautiful, life-giving coals.
Every week for the next six weeks I will post about one of the pauses, starting with the first pause of the day at dawn, and building up to the last pause called the Twilight Hour. There will be 6 pauses in all that we will practice together. I will only be posting about 6 because the 7th pause is called vigil and is in the middle of the night and…ain’t nobody got time for that right now!
If you would like to walk with me in this, just insert your email address at the bottom of this page and I will send each week’s pause directly to your inbox!
I also recommend buying one of the following guides to help explain the pauses and give you a lot of direction as the purpose of each pause.
I have used both of these books and HIGHLY recommend them as companions on the journey.
- The Seven Sacred Pauses by Macrina Wiederkehr
This is an excellent guide. It provides all kinds of information around the beauty of the pauses along with several options for prayer, music, scripture, and poetry to help celebrate each pause with praise. You can also purchase the Seven Sacred Pauses music album to aid you as you seek peace and rest in the pauses, but I will be honest that I do not love this album…it’s strange.
The Seven Sacred Pauses can be too flowery and intangible for some, and understandably so. However, I love it because includes all forms of spiritual influences in its rhythms and opens me up to finding God in places I never imagined before. I find it incredibly refreshing and beautiful and use it quite often.
I love the Common Book or Prayer for Ordinary Radicals because it has very guided prayers along as well as general prayer focuses so you can make it more personal to your own life, while still receiving some good direction if you’re just starting out. It can sometimes get too boring and traditional for me, but when practiced with regularity it becomes a real gift to my soul and the rhythms of my day.
Are you looking for something more than just a fiery experience?
Are you longing for the fullness of God in your life beyond just another Christian tradition?
Are you willing to practice and work toward a life of grace, peace, and purpose that truly lasts?
Join me for this Lent season. Let’s pause and develop a slow, steady burn for God and for others together.