A Controlled Burn
That term and concept has always been interesting to me; a “controlled burn.” I’ve always wondered why someone would intentionally burn land. After some study, I’ve found that controlled burns can actually cause a forest to GROW. They are also used to stop wildfires from consuming land, life and habitat; this is called back burning. According to Wikipedia Controlled burning reduces fuels, may improve wildlife habitat, controls competing vegetation, improves short term forage for grazing, improves accessibility, helps control tree disease, and perpetuates fire dependent species.
On the other hand, a WILD fire, often does nothing but destroy. While it may produce some of the same results as a controlled burn in the short term, it eventually ends up destroying the very good things it generated. It’s purpose is consumption, not creation.
Why are we talking about forestry and fires? Well, I purchased the new Jesus Culture album tonight (Yes, I ACTUALLY purchased an album, this is only the second since I got Spotify; the other was the new Coldplay album) and immediately I began listening to the song “We are Hungry” which is followed by the song “Fill Me Up” on the CD. The song “We are Hungry” took me back. It reminded me of a time in college where I passionately pursued God and His “fire.” Man, those were some great times. God did some AMAZING things. I have many fond memories of hours spent in prayer, Bible reading, fasting and sharing Jesus. However, I have other memories of those times too. Memories of a very immature, zealous young Christ-follower who did and said a lot of things, believing them to be right. In my zeal, though, everything was black and white. I was right, because I was “on fire.” I think, though, at times I was a “wild fire.” I hurt a lot of people, confused a lot of people and left some parched ground and ashes in my wake. Granted, this was NEVER my intention….it just was. It wasn’t the fire’s fault, it was the vessels fault. (If you are reading this and you were one I “burnt” during that season of my life…please forgive me, that was never my intention.)
A “controlled fire” on the other hand, has the potential to bring much life. It accomplishes the SAME things as a Wild Fire, it just does them in a setting that is life-giving, purposeful and not rampant and insatiable.
To be real honest, there are things about the wild fire that are very compelling to me. And I think, at times, the “controlled fire” can be so controlled that it isn’t really a fire at all. I think, if you are not careful, you can try so hard to control the fire that it becomes a “strange fire.” (See Leviticus 10). But think about it, God gave specific details about how the altar was to be built and dealt with in the OT; so there WAS some ORDER to the whole thing. And I think God blesses that.
However, I do know that there are some things from that season of “wild fire” in my life that were right. I know that all I wanted, in those times, was Jesus. I was HUNGRY for Him, and He responded. I was PASSIONATE and BROKEN for Him, and He was pleased with that sacrifice. I want to be there again, just not in away that destroys and confuses, but rather in a way that spreads and brings life.
I DO want to burn. I do LONG for God to “fill me up;’ for Him to provide the “fire” for my sacrifice.