I was struck by something a friend said to me yesterday, that his normal London commute was delayed due to two signal fires. I’m not a regular train traveller so I don’t know if this happens regularly.
But I was praying with a couple of our leadership team before the Sunday service this morning, and two things made me sense the wind of the Spirit. One, voiced by someone else, was that the cobwebs would be swept away. It didn’t strike me at the time, but later in the meeting a sister prayed for ME that the cobwebs get swept away. She hadn’t been there for the pre-meeting prayer! And then, I just got the thought about track-switching, about a train unavoidably re-routed by a switch on the track, and at the same time was reminded of signal fires.
Train signals are desperately important for safety. I’m guessing that a signal fire is the same as a signal failure, and that trains just have to stop and wait, rather than blunder on to possible collisions. But I think perhaps there needs to be more burning at the moment.
What sort of burning? I’m not saying that we reject everything we have experienced and learnt so far. It is true that from time to time I feel like I want to start again, put everything down, reassess. Looking through my possessions before moving house, you can be tricked into thinking: I’ve not used that item, or turned to that book, in five years, so I won’t need it. Chances are, just after you’ve got rid of it, you will be clamouring for it. Life has a habit of moving in waves, in phases, where whole swathes of your personality or networks of relationships aren’t touched for a while, and then suddenly you’re reconnected to them. So no, I’m not saying decrease the richness and the breadth of your life.
But I AM saying, burn up the dross. Let the bitterness go. Let the comparisons go. Lose the teenage crushes and the consumerist envy. Joy, as a veteran of the faith reminded me the other night on the way to Lighthouse Prayer, is spelled Jesus, Others, You. Happiness is the opposite, it starts with You, and never gets any further, circling around self self self like a vulture waiting for the final pickings; the lust for happiness is not satisfied until every shred of joy is completely gone. Jesus said, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.
He modelled it in his own path. His was not the primrose path to the everlasting bonfire. I think we have to be careful if we find there are too many primroses on our paths. Jesus walked a narrow way, but it led to an unspeakable joy. The Lord chooses to speak to us through a fire, or through a strange event, and he is telling us the next step. My food is to do the will of him who sent me. Am I going to listen, and respond, to the word that the Holy Spirit is bringing, or do I retreat to a formula, to a good idea?
To let go. To let the Spirit burn up in me each day. To say No to self.