Keith grew up in an old farmhouse on a hill in the Ozarks--no running water, a light bulb dangling in each room, and for heat, a woodstove in the kitchen and a fireplace in the living room. The kids slept in the unfinished (and un-insulated) attic. In the winter they shoved the foot of each bed against the brick chimney that rose through the attic to the roof so they could get whatever warmth might seep out, and they always made sure they were comfortable before his mother laid on the quilts. She piled so many on he couldn’t move from the weight of them afterward. So he knows a lot more about getting the heat out of a fire than I do.
We had a fireplace once in our married life, three years which were also our worst financial span. We used that fireplace as much for heat as beauty and atmosphere, and to keep the winter fuel bill down.
One especially cold evening he stood two large oak logs on end behind the fire, something he remembered from his childhood. Immediately the heat began pouring into the room instead of shooting up the chimney, and within an hour those logs had coaled up on their fronts, radiating yet more warmth, like the coils of an electric heater. Because they weren’t actually in the fire, they stood all night long without burning up, and we were much warmer than before. Backlogs, he called them, reflectors of the heat in front of them, and eventually of the heat they had absorbed.
We began using them when camping too, once the boys left home and we were no longer consigned to summer camping only. In October the temperature can drop precipitously in the mountains and even in Florida in January.
Paul says, Seeing it is God, that said, Light shall shine out of darkness, who shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, 2 Corinthians 4:6. He and the other apostles reflected the glory of God to their listeners. He called it “a treasure in our earthen vessels…of God and not from ourselves,” v 7. God must have seen in those men a clean and shining surface to reflect His glory or He never would have chosen them.
Earlier in the chapter Paul speaks about people who are so blinded by “the god of this world” that they cannot see the light. Do you think God can be reflected in people who are materialistic and unspiritual? Do you think His love will be emanated by those who are unkind and impatient, unforgiving and lacking in compassion? Can we mirror His glory when we are tarnished by an impure lifestyle?
The back logs we used did nothing in an empty fireplace or fire ring. They only functioned when they stood behind the fire, soaking up its heat, turning the same colors as the coals themselves, and exuding their warmth from all they had absorbed. We will never truly be “the image of God” if we are not standing next to Him, soaking up His word and the glory it reveals about Him.
We must become back logs, reflecting God’s glory just as those apostles did, realizing it is not we who shine, but He who shines forth from us. Like those logs, we should eventually change, so that the reflection becomes truer and the image clearer in every word and every deed, and in every place.
But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit, 2 Corinthians 3:18.