My eyes fluttered open, taking inventory of the things around me. It was still dark and all was quiet. What had awakened me was a scent wafting from another room. I should not have been smelling this particular scent at this time. Once the heaviness of deep sleep allowed me to rise, I bolted into the kitchen to find I had not put out a candle on the counter.
This evening, I had a little extra time after putting the kids to bed to clean and settle in for the night. So, I lit one of my favorite candles and continued laboring in love over the laundry, taking in the smell of a clean house and luxurious candle.
If you have kids, you are probably familiar with the term mommy brain. I don’t think it is necessarily limited to moms, but it is a term that describes the phenomenon that occurs when your brain is so maxed out taking care of little people, that it doesn’t have room for extraneous details. Like dousing a burning candle.
In my haste to put it out, I paused for a second to take in the sight of the pitch-black room with just the red embers glowing from the center of the candle. I wondered if that’s how Moses felt when he saw an ordinary bush suddenly ablaze.
After I realized we were spared immediate danger, I considered the candle.
No one even knew I had lit the candle. No one knew the pleasure I gained from inhaling its scent. No one knew the panic I endured when I awoke in the middle of the night to the burning candle. No one knew when it was all over.
Can’t our prayers and relationship with God be like that at times? The prayer I mutter in the middle of the night? The ones I forgot were offered up in times of happiness or panic?
I loved that God specifically used a candle to remind me of his presence. Yeah, yeah it’s a stretch to compare the burning bush to a Volcano candle, but like me, Moses was just going about his day to day routine and stumbled upon the bush. Not so subtle, God.
Throughout the Bible, God is often accompanied by fire. Because, yall, we just need something that extravagant to wake us from our lulled routine of living and get us to pay attention.
I was also reminded of one of my dear friends who intentionally uses candles to turn her attention to God. How many times I remember walking into her office and seeing a lit candle on her desk. She always did it as a visual (and scent-filled) reminder to herself to pray over specific events and people. How special to have a prayer warrior like that!
I thought about my candle and God’s promises. See, there are many things I lay before Him and wait for Him to provide answers for. A lot of times, I forget the prayers and probably even overlook their being answered. As humans, we just have a limited capacity for longsuffering. We begin to think that God is ignoring us or is dragging his feet when we do not get the immediate justification we seek.
It’s easy to forget that He is still flickering in the background. He is still on the counter, burning a way through the wilderness. He is still emitting a fragrance for all to breathe in. Maybe the candle was left burning for 7 hours, like in my kitchen. Maybe it has been left simmering for 7 years.
God always provides a light in the darkness. What I’m finding is that I am usually the hold up. Even when God has told me something, with or without the use of pyrotechnics, it still takes me weeks or even months to gnaw on it before I act. And in my hesitation, it’s tempting to think that God has forgotten me or given up on me.
Maybe it’s time to back up and see that God meets us where we are. No, we are not tending flocks of animals (unless our herd of cows counts), but we are shepherding those around us. The toddlers climbing up your legs. The brother you wish would grow up. The coworker you grit your teeth next to. And so easily we fall into the rut of routine, that we really do need God to send up a flare – something to catch our eye.
God didn’t come to Moses after he had cleaned himself up. No, God came to Moses after he fled from, ya know, killing a man.
But like Moses, God’s signal will draw us closer so that we can be near him and hear from him. His timing is so different from ours, but if we listen to Him – if we take off our sandals and sit a while with Him, we can grasp that He is working for us.
His presence is all around. Like walking into my friend’s office full of fragrance, as is God’s presence. And once we learn to recognize the small flames, we can start to see God in all his glory guiding us through each day.
Maybe you’ve seen the flicker, but you haven’t walked over to see what it is. Maybe you feel more like one of the 3 men in the book of Daniel facing a furnace that will surely finish you off.
We serve a God that is not shaken by things that we find fearful. He is all-knowing and all-powerful. Let’s seek to worship and praise Him this week, whether that looks like a little flame you need to fan to keep from fizzling or is full of fireworks. Let your flicker light the way for others.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Exodus 3:1-5 “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight – why the bush does not burn up.” When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not comet any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”
Exodus 13:21 “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.”
Daniel 3:15-29 “But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.[d] 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics,[e] their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 22 Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside[f] the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”
Hebrews 12:28-29 “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”