Kicking on the Furnace

When the cold air comes on in,
it kicks the furnace on,
and the furnace overwhelms the cold.
As the sorrow comes into the heart of a Christian,
it kicks on more of the joy.
It gets you closer to him,
it helps you dig down deeper into him,
and the joy kicks up, you might say, like a furnace,
and overwhelms the sorrow.
That is a picture of a solid Christian.
Not a sorrow-less person who is
happy, happy, happy, all the time.
That’s not the picture.
A picture of a real Christian
is a person who has a furnace of joy in there
that kicks up as the sorrow comes in
and overwhelms the sorrow.
But the sorrow is there.
It is there.
~Pastor Tim Keller (1990)
, now in treatment for pancreatic cancer

The Cross is the blazing fire at which the flame of our love is kindled, but we have to get near enough for its sparks to fall on us.
~John Stott

I have listened to criticism at times in my faith life that I don’t exhibit enough joy and happiness in my Christian walk. It is true that I tend toward lamenting the state of the world and the state of my own soul. I could use more balance in my expressions of gratitude. So what I hear from others is fair feedback.

My faith furnace thermostat is now set so high that it rarely kicks on and I dwell too much in the cold.

Especially in the last year of COVID-time, I have been especially feeling the chill as I watch so many dealing with immense sorrow and loss. So much has changed, particularly in how we can safely gather and worship together, resulting in finger pointing among Christians about who is showing more righteous dedication to the Word of God.

So the nit-picking begins.

If we don’t sing together in worship as commanded by our Lord but temporarily restricted by state regulations, do we lack conviction in our faith, allowing fear and earthly authorities to rule over us? If we sing outside, even in the cold dark rain and snow, is that sufficient compromise and does it truly “turn on” the furnace of our joy?

Or wearing a mask shows fear and a lack of faith that God is ultimately in charge as only He determines how many days we dwell on this earth. Yet by wearing a mask at all times when together we are showing compassion for others by loving them enough to try to protect them from any infection we may unknowingly harbor.

These feel like irreconcilable differences in perspective among people who purportedly love one another in the name of Christ. So we all end up in the cold, waiting on the furnace of our love and joy to kick on.

In my self-absorption, I tend to forget that the fire has always been there, lit by Christ’s sacrifice, despite His own mortal fear and hesitation and tears, yet fueled solely by His divine desire to save His children. I need to come closer to feel the heat of His love, and feel those sparks landing on my earthly skin to remind me there can be no love without pain.

Amen to that.

2 thoughts on “Kicking on the Furnace

  1. Exactly what I am thinking this afternoon.
    Why am I living like this? Hunkered down for 10 months…no church…no social gatherings.
    Will the vaccine allow us to begin to gather and to visit our most vulnerable?
    I am beginning to think…NOT.

    I have been asking the question…What is the Christian response to this virus?…for the last too many months!
    Some say wearing a mask expresses fear.
    I say…are we not to love our neighbor?
    I too tend to be too much of a lamenter.
    And I hear my father say multiply times a day…I am alone.
    He is becoming an angry old man. His personality is changing. He has experienced tooooooo much isolation.
    The numbers keep rising.
    Some are living life like normal and there are some like me hunkered down and barely living.
    How much longer??? I need a light at the end of this tunnel.

    “I need to come closer to feel the heat of His love, and feel those sparks landing on my earthly skin to remind me there can be no love without pain.”

    Yes, I agree. I have been trying to do that.
    TV turned off.
    Reading Max Lucado’s books, Never Alone and You’ll Make It Through This.
    I’m not sure I will – as I do my lamenting and also listen to my father’s lamentations.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A dear friend and I had a discussion today (via email) about finding JOY in our faith/life walk and how we often miss the JOY! I love your words, “turn on the furnace of our joy”!

    I find comfort in this poem/prayer by Edwina Gateley………

    Ah……a resting place,
    where we come to understand
    it is not required of us
    to wrestle constantly and passionately
    with our God….
    nor pursue relentlessly
    all God’s decrees as we understand them,
    but only that we listen and wonder
    and hope and pray,
    that we might, perhaps,
    make just a little difference,
    one quiet grey day.

    With your beautiful and heartfelt words you definitely make a difference,Emily, and for that I am grateful! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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