ringed with fire

I lean in close to the flame.

Shutter captures firelight flickering over and around scrub wood gathered from the bush. The night is cool in the hills near to Congo.

I store glimpses of this other realm.  A small village off an unpaved road that doesn’t even earn the right to be on a map.  I have not just traveled miles, but time.

A time before internet and email, before facebook and instant anything.  The women rise before dawn to cook over wood fires, haul dirty water in cracked plastic jugs up from a barely there stream in the dry, weave containers from local grasses, live close to the earth that brings its blessings, its struggles.

Most have not ever seen white skin before.  They are well impressed with my meager Arabic, but only speak their tribal Kalico dialect of Bari.  All eager to teach me and greatly amused at my efforts.

The sun sets quietly and the cool of the darkness settles in. I sit with new sisters found and we talk in three languages at once to find our meaning beyond the words.  They carry logs already burning to bring us warmth.

Fire catches with grass kindling, bursts forth into a dance of orange and yellow light.  I lean in close to the flame. I watch its motion and I am reminded.

He is a wall of fire round about me.  He is my glory within.  He rings me with His holy flame.  (Zech 2:5) I burn and long within for my adopted home to be set ablaze with Who He is.   A fire that is not at all safe, but one that is very good.

But is not the beginning for me myself to run so far into His fiery gaze that all I am bursts forth, sparks with His burning beauty and blazing grace?

I watch the flame.  Do I dare to say yes to being consumed?  Or do I stay a safe distance away and warm my hands by that which is meant to utterly take over all I am?  The true measure of my revival can be measured by my distance from the fire of Who He is.

I am challenged by that. Fire burns.  Burning is not comfortable.  At all.  But even so I will ask for the dangerous:

Jesus, may all I am be set alight with all You are, ringed by Your fire, consumed by Your grace. May I never be content to stay a safe distance from that which is meant to set me ablaze that others might be ignited to burn, that revival might come even to these ends of the earth.