Extinguish This (guest blogger Scott Chatfield)
A few years ago I awakened in the middle of the night by my wife asking me, “Do you smell something?”. Now I don’t know about you, but when I hit the pillow I’m out, and there isn’t much that works correctly with my senses. But my wife says having children has changed her and she hears & smells EVERYTHING while she is sleeping. So, as I tried to come out of the deep fog that I was in, I simply replied, “No!”. She shook me and told me I had to go investigate. I don’t know why, I had to investigate, she’s the one that smelled something. But I got up and began to sniff the best I could. I smelled nothing, and laid back down. She said, “No, I smell something burning. Did you look outside?”. So I got back up and trodded in my underwear to the back door and flipped on the porch light. And there it was, a literal fog, or what was actually smoke. It was pouring from my neighbors shed. As I peered out to investigate, I realized something ... HE WAS IN IT!
I grabbed the hose and ran towards the shed ... it wasn’t long enough! I ran back and grabbed the fire extinguisher under the sink and ran back to the shed, flung open the door and tried to put out the blaze on the floor of the SHED. Just when I thought I had it out, it flamed back up. I tried to spray again, but I was out. I ran back to the house, grabbed a bucket and began to fill it with the hose. About this time another neighbor came running up and we began a small bucket brigade trying desperately to get the fire out. Bucket after bucket we sloshed in the shed, but to no avail. The fire would go out, and spring right back up. It seemed like forever and millions of buckets, but finally the fire was out. The fire department arrived, made sure it was extinguished and rushed my neighbor, who had been on the second floor of the shed hanging out the window trying to breath fresh air, to the hospital.
I remember two things from that night. My neighbor gasping for breath and the struggle to extinguish the fire.
These are two ongoing stories of our world: fighting for breath, and extinguishing the flame. The problem is the world has it wrong. In the case of my neighbor, extinguishing the flame gave him the ability to breathe ... but the mistake of our world is extinguishing the very thing that gives us life and breath.
John 1:1-5 (NLT)
In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word Gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought life to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
To help us understand how to take a deep breath in a world that seems as if it is choking us out at every turn, I’d like to share a few thoughts on this passage.
1. IT’S NOT OUR STORY
When John says in the beginning, he doesn’t really mean the beginning. Sure it’s OUR beginning. The beginning of linear time, Human understanding, physical substance, the human story, but not the actual beginning. There isn’t one, and if you think about it, you’re brain will explode trying to grasp that, so don’t do it. Since he was there in the beginning, that’s not his beginning. He’s always been there, so we can have confidence that this story of life, isn’t about us. It’s for us. He is the story. He is the beginning and he will be there past the end. So as we look at life. Our life. Our purpose. Our efforts, plans and purpose, we need to look beyond our story and see that there is something bigger than our story. When we begin to see outside our story, we can begin to breathe.
2. The WORD is POWERFUL
God’s spoken word is God’s plan, purpose, breath, put into action. Everything God did in the beginning was with the WORD. The spoken word. That Word gave life to everything. It is God’s plan put into action. If you keep reading in John, you’ll discover the Word becomes flesh. God’s purpose put on the planet to be lived out through Jesus. That Word has always been. And we can have bold confidence he will always be. That since this world was created through him, there is nothing in this world that is greater than him and nothing will overcome him.
3. LIFE and LIGHT is HIS PLAN
The entire reason the Word was spoken, was to give life. It created this world, it gave light where there was none, it gave life and breath to all of creation and it especially to us. He was our first breath. We have literal life, because he spoke it, he breathed it, he purposed it. His purpose hasn’t changed. The Word is still giving life. The Word is still alive and giving breath to us.
4. DARKNESS CANNOT EXTINGUISH IT!
The light overcame the void and emptiness when God spoke it into existence. And there is no darkness that can overcome it. When the world was created light defeated the darkness. On Calvary, the death of Jesus caused the world to be covered in darkness, his resurrection defeated it. This world is going to die one day, and his Light will overcome the destruction of it. And in our lives there is a void … a whole … a darkness, that is choking us out, but his Light and Life will overcome it.
So what does all of this have to do with me, with you, with us?
If you are looking for breath, a purpose, life … His Word was spoken for you. Breathe in Jesus and live for his Story, his plan, his purpose. It’s just that simple, Love God and Love his people, It’s not easy … but it is simple.
Understand that YOU have a purpose. You are to run to the “shed”. Find those gasping for breath, and help them breathe. Share the love and plan and the WORD of God with those you encounter.
Praise the one who gave you breath. Get plugged in to a community that will walk with you and help you live out this page of a grander story. Praise him for the breath he has given you. Praise him for overcoming the darkness. And rest in his breath of life.
My neighbor recovered just fine after that ordeal that night. I never learned why he was in the shed or how the fire started. He never talked to me about it. He never thanked me or my wife for our efforts to save him … that has stuck with me all these years. Take a minute, and thank God for giving you Life, Breath, Light, Purpose, Hope, Joy, Forgiveness … he came to your rescue!
Scott's blog can be found at https://itsjustcrumbs.wordpress.com