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Dancing Near the Flame

Dancing Near the Flame

How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Matthew 23:37

I rarely have just suddenly adopted some destructive behavior out of nowhere. For me, it’s always been a gradual progression. I didn’t one day simply decide to go from sobriety to losing my job in my addiction. No, it started with little things that snowballed. I started skipping my daily time with God, going my own way, and indulging in small destructive pursuits at first. Dancing near the flame led to more of the same, and soon, my life was on fire.

In the disaster then, I looked back in some shock. How did I get here? God, how could you allow this to happen? I questioned my own faith. Christians don’t act like this, right? Don’t you love me God? Am I not your child?

My surprise was based on the false premise that God’s children can’t wander or fail. I had failed spectacularly. So, what did that say about me? I knew that I was meant to be a new creation in Christ and that the old was supposed to be passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17). I’d heard somewhere that my sin nature was taken away when I came to faith, but I still had profoundly destructive, sinful appetites.

In today’s passage, Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem reveals his heart and the reality of our condition. In the story, Jesus sorrowfully looks upon his people, proclaiming his desire to see them follow the father, while also acknowledging their freedom not to do so. I want what’s best for you. I want you to follow God, but I’ll allow you to go your own way, finding misery and destruction in the process (my paraphrase).

We’re smart enough to know the destructive power of the fire, and usually, we don’t start out trying to get burned. We like to dance close to the flames though. The alcoholic tells himself, I can just have one drink. God of course, allows this, even for his children. In Christ, he has given us the freedom to follow him or to follow ourselves. In following ourselves, he allows us to find misery and consequences. Thankfully, the opposite is also true. By daily abandoning our way to follow his, we can experience the life, joy, and peace for which we were made.

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