This week has been a bit of a ‘drop everything and put out a fire’ kind of week. You see, Jack has been sick for a month. Turns out one of the tubes put in his ears last February came out in the beginning of October and he immediately developed an ear infection that we still haven’t kicked. The poor guy got more and more sick over last month and the only thing the prescribed antibiotics did was serve up a heaping helping of stomach problems that have led to a host of other discomforts. Last week we even had to stop his medicine right in the middle because it was causing him so many more problems than it was curing! All in all, the guy has spent the last few weeks or so in pain, confused, saddle sore, with a faucet for a nose and sleeping badly. When he’s not been completely distracted by tons of people or something really awesome, he’s been fussing. Needless to say, it’s been tough on everybody.
Two days ago I took him in to see his Ear, Nose and Throat doctor, who looked at his dramatically infected ear for the second time in as many weeks and said, “Well Dad, he’s sick.” Yeah... I gathered that. Thanks. After reflecting on the history of this unsuccessful month of treatment, our doctor paused for a second in thought, looked at his watch and then, with an urgent look in his eye, said, “You know what? I think I have a little time tomorrow. You want to just do surgery tomorrow?” “Yes!” I said. “That would be awesome.” And just like that, we entered a whirlwind of getting ready for a surgery to happen in less than 15 hours. Christy and I were so glad that these folks were taking Jack as seriously as we were, and just like that, he was back in surgery yesterday morning. Turns out Jack was even more sick than the doctor first assumed. It was a bit of an emergency and a good thing they did what they did when they did it.
The thing that was interesting to me about this whole situation was how surprised everyone in our lives was to find out Jack was having surgery or was even sick. As far as they knew, and whenever they saw him, he seemed fine. Was he really so sick he needed surgery? Was he really so sick he needed immediate surgical attention? The more I think about that, it strikes me that lots of people are like Jack. They fill their lives up with distractions so that no one really knows the state of emergency that’s going on inside. They look fine on the outside and if you ask them how they’re doing, they’ll say they’re great, but oftentimes the truth is that they need to drop everything and put a fire out... or keep a fire burning.
This morning I was reading Romans 12 where Paul leads off by pleading with these folks to give themselves completely to God. He tells them that they are to be the ‘whole burnt offering’ of the old sacrificial system, completely consumed for the Lord. Paul says that when you look at what God has done for us, it only makes sense to offer yourself completely in this way. Then he spends the rest of the chapter showing what that looks like in real life. In verse 11 he says, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” When I read that verse, it made me think of the original ‘whole burnt offering’ sacrifice of the Old Testament, way back in Leviticus chapter 6. Check this out:
The LORD said to Moses: “Give Aaron and his sons this command: ‘These are the regulations for the burnt offering: The burnt offering is to remain on the altar hearth throughout the night, till morning, and the fire must be kept burning on the altar... The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.
How’s your fire doing? There’s nothing more important than keeping it burning. If it’s flagging or dying out, there is nothing more important than tending to it! I bet a lot of people are spiritually dry a lot of the time and never tell anyone. It’s like being sick! It’s like needing surgery! It’s urgent, and if it’s you, tell someone! Get someone you love to pray for you. Don’t let the fire go out! It’s a big deal that all of us do whatever it takes to keep our love for Jesus burning. If you need encouragement or if you’re low on fuel for the fire, don’t go it alone! Don’t pretend you’re okay when you need emergency attention. Drop everything and find someone who will drop everything with you. There’s nothing more important than keeping that fire ablaze.