A green vine not growing,
Not pruned nor watered,
Yet ever full of blooms
Blazing with fiery hues.
Neither leaf nor branch burns:
A shoeless sight to see.
Flying ice ore
Hurtling through space
Slams into atmosphere
And explodes for miles long
And the swirling swift clouds beneath
Flow along the currents of air
Undeterred by the fire
That streaked by overhead.
I yield the javelin, buckler, and spear
To hands whose stronger grip
Can relax my fists, my fingers clenching
And my vain vengeance strip.
Let blessing then be my javelins hurled:
May kindness, goodwill, my banner unfurled.
Let the fire I call down upon their heads
Be the flames of mercy;
Let the wrath I deserve to feel, instead,
Fuel waiting patiently.
May my forested eyes be burned to ash
That I may see no foe, but brother, pass.
Yesterday’s campfire doused and drenched with a hose
As the atmosphere begins to wring like a sponge–
The hissing, billowing smoke yields to the water
And I turn to leave.
But today, the wrung sponge is replaced by a faucet
And yesterday’s ash is gray and black mud–
But a hissing plume of smoke still rises in defiance
Before the embers leave.
The ashes of priests still red-glow,
From Uzziah’s woe I retreat.
But where can I go? Where to run?
I might as well be on the sun.
To live in Your tent, there with You,
In Your presence tru- ly content.
Past the curtain, through the thick veil,
My heart’s great intend- ed home dwells.
How can I survive holy flame,
Not vaining Your Name, but to thrive
In that Place, the same that can kill?
‘Neath Your wings I hide, drink my fill.
For our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29 HCSB).
Clouds and thick darkness surround Him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.
Fire goes up before Him and burns up His foes on every side.
He protects the lives of His godly ones;
He rescues them from the hand of the wicked.
Light dawns for the righteous,
gladness for the upright in heart.
Be glad in the LORD, you righteous ones,
and praise His holy name. (Psalm 97:3, 10b-12 HCSB)
The declaration of the LORD: “I will be a wall of fire around [Jerusalem], and I will be the glory within it” (Zechariah 2:5 HCSB).
The Bible is full of interesting–and often difficult–tensions. Many of these tensions deal with the character of God Himself, which makes the difficulties that much more difficult. But these tensions are necessary and foundational to life and worship.
The tension in the texts above is between the realities that God is both ours AND a consuming fire.