I have watched the sunrise this morning through the stark limbs of trees now bare of their leaves. I wished that my fireplace was a working one so I could have a fire. Not one to be thwarted, I picked up the TV remote and spoke into it, “Watch Yule log on YouTube” and immediately I had a large roaring fire right there in front of me complete with a Christmas music background, can’t ask for better than that and as a bonus, no ashes to cart out after the fire has gone cold…been there, done that, no fun at all.
There’s one problem with this fire, no matter how close I draw my recliner toward the TV I cannot feel any warmth from that fire, not even a little bit.
I remember standing in front of the fire at great-Grandma Minnie’s house, it was taller than I was high when I was a little girl, and the logs seemed so big. I loved to watch them crackle and pop and every now and then a little spark would spit right off one of those logs and land on the stone hearth. As long as you faced that fireplace your front was warm, too warm, but your backside was cold, so you turn around to get toasty warm and then repeat the whole process meanwhile dreading the moment you needed to go to the outhouse, which was a good little walk from the house and no light except the moon to see where your steps were going. Remembering the huge sow that had chased me earlier that day made me look around to make sure she wasn’t lurking in the shadows waiting to eat me…but my cousins had told me she would love for me to come and see her small newborn and very pink babies, being a city kid, I believed them… but that’s a story for another telling. I can remember the smell of that small wooden structure and the feel of the cold wood on my legs and the cold air coming up from that dark hole beneath me, all while wondering if a spider was going to crawl out and bite my suspended fanny. The trip back up the path, running across the porch past the kitchen and finally into the big room with the fireplace seemed to take forever but at last back in the warmth felt safe and I was ready for my place on the soft bed of quilts stacked on the floor to soon lose consciousness of the adults who were still in conversation mode in front of the fireplace.
Yeah, I can feel none of that as I type while sitting in front of the beautiful, if fake, fire on my TV.
So, what I’m wondering is this, how much of our life is as fake as that fire? Are we really looking forward to Christmas Day and the anticipation of the countdown to a new year or are we just appearing that way to the people around us?
Can those standing close feel any warmth from us or is it all just a picture of something we wish were true?
I don’t feel any warmth from the fireplace I am watching over the top of this computer but the memories it evoked are warm and real enough to take me back for a few moments… am I giving enough of my real self to make you feel warm and cozy when you are around me, or am I just a picture of a fire? Maybe I need to take that iron poker and stir up the flames in my heart while all those who stood around that fireplace in my childhood are watching from heaven to see what I am going to do with the rest of my life, I hope I don’t disappoint them…
Hebrews 12:1-3 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
Merry Christmas from my fake fireplace!