While I was growing up my grandparents had a cottage at Lake Erie and we spent many summer days on the beach and nights sitting around the campfire ring. I remember the delicious breakfasts over the fire and the camp pies and singing around the fire at night. Many wonderful memories surround that fire ring.
But there is one memory I have of the fire ring that isn’t quite so pleasant. I was very young and I was ‘helping’ my dad burn trash in the fire ring. At one point, my dad reached down with his left hand and touched the fire ring while he threw trash into the middle of the fire with his right hand. I don’t know why he did it, and he certainly wouldn’t have done it if he had known that I was going to do it too. Because I thought I could be like my dad, I touched the very hot fire ring and was burned. I did not understand that it would hurt me because I was not as strong as my dad. I didn’t have calloused, hard-working hands like he did and I didn’t know how to just barely touch it for a moment so I wouldn’t get burned.
Ever since the beginning of time we have been trying to become big and strong and knowledgeable. We have been trying to become like God. Adam and Eve wanted to become like God so they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Becoming like God hurt us. We thought it would make us like Him, to understand like Him. But all it brought was pain and shame. I still don’t understand why my dad touched the fire ring. There really wasn’t a reason that I can see. But just like I didn’t understand what my dad did, I often don’t understand what God does. There doesn’t seem to be a reason behind His methods sometimes. But God’s ways are always going to be higher than our understanding can reach. I am not strong or knowledgeable enough to understand Him completely and I never will be. Constantly trying to become like God and understand things like God has hurt me, just like trying to be like my dad hurt me for a brief moment. I try to ‘help’ God by becoming like Him and I hurt myself instead. I question His ways and live in fear when I could just rest and let Him be God.
But, here’s another truly beautiful thing about God. Even when we try to be like Him, He still takes us in His arms and comforts us when it hurts. He still covers our shame and offers us His love and grace. My dad held and comforted me when I got hurt and I learned a valuable lesson. And each time there is pain in our lives, it’s an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson and to be held by the greatest Love in the universe. I am so glad my Father is strong enough to hold me when I hurt.
Oh, and I imagine there will be camp pies in Heaven! 😉
"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord." - Isaiah 55:8