Few things are as wonderful in fall as enjoying a bonfire with friends, smores, and hot apple cider; as we were blessed to do this past weekend. As I taught my youngest son how to roast a marshmallow, he couldn’t resist the temptation to put it directly in the flame and watch it catch fire, even after discovering he didn’t like the flavor of the burnt ones. But since I do, I didn’t mind taking on the role of burnt-marshmallow eater for him. So he repeatedly burned them and handed them off to me.

A New Understanding

Fire symbolizes so many things in the Bible, and I feel like it speaks my language as a passionate woman. Yet as I stood near the flames, a new understanding struck me about the nature of fire.

I spent too many years loving others the way my son was roasting marshmallows. I’d love with such great passion but without appropriate boundaries. Anyone near my “fire” likely came out looking burnt, scarred, and unquestionably mishandled. Because I wasn’t pursuing holy living, those on the receiving end of my well-meaning intentions were hurt in a way that I couldn’t fix, no matter how quickly I attempted to blow out the flame after the fact. In my hands, they just weren’t safe. The only option was to hand them off to my Father.

Close to the Fire

God has been gracious to bring loved ones in and out of my life. Although there is a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing (Ecc. 3:5), I reflected on how many times I have simply held others too closely and for too long. I have made this mistake more times than my son burnt marshmallows that evening.

I realize I still have so much to learn about loving well. But my Father? He’s got it down. His “marshmallow stick” is totally secure, and He holds me just close enough to the flame to constantly refine me. His technique is such that I’m able to warm and change from the inside first, and it is only by His method that the warm glow of His touch will eventually come out on my surface. And in case I slip, He’s already there. He’s in the fire, ready to catch and throw me back out to where I can stand again. He’s so busy loving me perfectly that I’m never out of his reach, and unlike what we do to one another, I’m never unwanted or rejected.

Under the Son

In our human condition, there is indeed a time for everything under the sun. But under the Son? Basking in the light of His perfection, we will finally be able to love one another with the skill of my Father. And for today, I’m grateful He’s made provision to take on my burnt mistakes as I continually attempt to learn His methods. I’ll get there someday when the light of this bonfire goes out.