Now that the boys are gone, Keith still likes to build a fire on cool nights. Our partially wooded property always produces enough deadfall to keep the fires going, and even here in Florida, the weather is cool enough to make a fire pleasant, rotating yourself like a rotisserie, warming each side in turn.
Keith will often throw a carefully collected and dried pile of Spanish moss on the flame. At first the fire appears smothered, but the heat gradually burns through, producing thick billows of gray smoke that seem almost tactile, finally burning clear and shooting sparks and cinders up toward the sky. We lean our heads on the lawn chair backs to see which will travel highest and glow longest before burning out in the cold blackness above the treetops.
Do you realize that is all an atheist believes life is? We are cinders in a bonfire. Some of us simply dissolve in the fire. Others rise on the updraft, some burning higher, larger, and longer than others, but burning out nonetheless, just like everyone else. How can they survive believing this is all there is to it? Some use that as an excuse to do whatever they want, regardless of who it hurts and the harm it causes. Even then, as they grow older and realize the brevity of life, the pointlessness of it all takes its toll. When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes; all he expected from his power comes to nothing, Prov 11:7.
But children of God know better. We are not just nameless cinders in the updraft of a brief blaze. We have not only an eternal existence to look forward to, but a purpose here as well. Very few of us will rise high enough and burn long enough for many to notice and fewer to remember, but we can all give warmth and light in a cold, dark world. Maybe working so hard that we dissolve in the flame without ever rising above it is the better end. How much warmth and light did you ever get out of a single spark anyway?
What are your plans for today? Are you so busy you get tired just thinking about it? And at what? Is it something that will warm someone’s heart and light their way? Even things that don’t seem likely can be made into an opportunity to do good. If they cannot, maybe we should think twice about doing them. We are all sparks in the fire, or else we are just trying to put it out.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on the stand, and it shines unto all who are in the house. Even so let your light shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven, Matt 5:14-16.