Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday's Meditation: A Boss Your Heart Message

Thank you, Kirsten Walkup, for today's devo!

Fun With Matches
Kirsten Walkup
When I was a kid my church had a boy’s program called Royal Rangers. Think of it as a church sponsored boy scouts type thing. The adults in charge were supposed to teach us things about camping and the outdoors and, of course, the bible. I’m not sure if I was just unlucky but the leaders in charge of the things we did knew very little about how to function in the outdoors (starting a campfire with gasoline siphoned from the church van should generally be regarded as a poor idea) and even less about scripture (Abraham built the Ark, huh?), but I digress. In this program you could earn little medals that you got to wear on your goofy-looking khaki uniform. The one I coveted the most was the “Camping” medal.
In order to earn this little gem we had to display our proficiency in outdoorsmanship, even though the tests were actually conducted in the church parking lot and not in an actual outdoor setting. At any rate, we had to be able to start a campfire using only one match (they didn’t allow us to use gasoline), demonstrate proper technique for chopping wood (I think if you completed this with all appendages in-tact, you passed), and we had to bring waterproof matches to church that we had waterproofed ourselves. Just how does one water-proof matches you ask? That’s a fantastic question. The long and short of it is that you have to coat them with wax. No big deal, right?
When you’re a ten year old boy you don’t always think things through. Such was the case with my little foray into the wonderful world of waterproofing matches. Now in order to do this properly, one is supposed to warm wax slightly above melting temperature, then gingerly coat the match with the wax. I did mention the wax should only be slightly melted, right? Good. Ten year old Kirsten ignored that part and proceeded to go around the house (I was home alone) and collect all of the candles I could find and placed them in the biggest pot my grandmother had. I then stuck the pot on the stove and brought the candle wax to nice, simmering boil. Now I’ve always had a mind for efficiency which serves me well as an engineer. On this day it nearly got me killed. I had to bring in fifty water-proofed matches, and doing them one at a time was going to take far too long. After all, there were cartoons that needed to be watched and video games that needed to be played, so I wanted to make short work of this.
My grandmother was a seamstress and had quite the wonderful collection of thread which I often put to good use. I used some of her thread to bind all fifty matches together and proceeded to dip the matches into the now roiling (not slightly melted) pot of wax. Instantly a three-foot flame shot out of the pot and proceeded to melt the overhead range. Now, there was a fire extinguisher under the sink, but I didn’t think of that at the moment. I knew the opposite of fire was water, so I filled up a big pitcher of water and doused the flames. BIG mistake. As soon as the water hit the wax the flames leapt out of the pot and raced up the front of my body and face, completely engulfing the walls and ceiling around me. I had time to utter one thing, “Jesus, help me!”, and as quickly as the flames went up they shrank back down into the pot and the fire went out. I vividly remember looking around at the smoking wax and soot coated kitchen in horror, thinking surely I must be badly burned, even though I had yet to feel any pain. I ran into the bathroom and stared into the mirror with shock at what stood in front of me; not a hair on my head was singed, not a drop of scorched wax had touched my flesh, and my clothes were untouched.
My all-time favorite singer is a man named Russ Taff and my all-time favorite song is one that he performed called “Farther on”. The opening lyrics to that song state, “I hear you have a soft-spot for fools and little children, and I’m glad, ‘cause I’ve been both on those”. I think I was fourteen or so when that song came out and the older I get, it seems that song becomes more relevant to me. I have innumerable imperfections and sometimes I think my lone saving grace is the fact that I have an absolutely unwavering belief that the God I serve can do absolutely anything. The waterproofing matches incident is but one of many instances in my life where God’s intervention has staved off catastrophe. I haven’t always been spared pain and loss, my body and spirit bear scars as proof of that fact, but the Lord has always carried me through. A lifetime of near-misses has taught me as much.
Isaiah 43 is a chapter of scripture I adore, particularly the opening verses. They read, “But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” This passage has meant a great deal to me in various stages of my life, usually when I’m dealing with discouragement.
We will all experience the “flames and floods” of life, some self-inflicted, some not. But the important thing to remember is that He will carry us through.
Boss your heart!

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