Unless we grew up in a family given to pyromania (the compulsion to set things on fire), most of us were likely told when we were little kids, “Don’t play with matches!”
But then we got older, and we thought, smarter. Striking matches was now old hat. Proof in point: we had managed not to burn down the house or singe all the hair off our head (though I did fry the ends of my hair at 15 when I was trying to take an alluring self-snapshot of my face leaning near a burning candle…turns out my arms weren’t as long as my hair…)
What we didn’t realize is that just as ‘curiosity killed a cat,’ playing with fire could nearly wipe out not only the house, but the interior places of our soul, too. The shame flame was ignited.
Shame is like a thin, grey wisp of smoke swallowing up the vibrant rainbow colors of our life. Left untended, it billows out in ever-increasing layers of choking thickness as the fire rages.
So how do we get the rainbow back? Does it mean we never strike a match again?
I think it means we begin to learn what all that shame is covering up. And why we’re so enamored with playing with fire in the first place.
God has never removed the fertile deposit of being He placed within us. What He has placed, remains.
However, He doesn’t grip a magic wand, waving away the thick blanket of smoky shame that covers up the essence of who we are. Why not? He’s the God who can do anything, isn’t He? And if He loves us, why not just prove it by putting out the fires we started? At least douse the inferno, puhleese!
Well, He could. But I have found that He is much wiser than our impatience and me-ness gives Him credit for.
First, He’s a gentleman. He is not into putting anyone to shame who comes to Him with a contrite heart.
Secondly, there is something about the “treasures of darkness” that the Lord wants to give us. (Isaiah 45:3 KJV) As real as the singed hair was in my Kodak moment, it has been every bit as real discovering that searching out what has been hidden in the dark is a key to being restored. It is a crucial part of getting back one’s rainbow.
From personal experience, I’m convinced the Lord wants us to see clearly. We are so much more alive and effective in His hands when our awareness is heightened and we’ve learned to identify and distinguish what is at play in the situations and relationships in which we find ourselves. Then we can make different choices.
As we spend some time on this topic of shame, there’s a different match I want to strike. It is the match of the True Light that dispels the darkness and reveals the hindrances that keep us throwing another log on the altar of shame’s fire.
After you read this, I’m giving you permission to go light a match. Consider it a virtual object lesson…
Notice that when you strike the match, there is an ignition point right before it flares up into a flame.
Shame is kind of like that red tip on the match before it gets lit.
It’s what flares up and begins to burn once it’s struck that we’re going to explore over the next several blog entries.
And in the process, I pray we learn our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29 KJV). He wants to consume the cause and the effect of our shame.
All so He can start another unquenchable fire in us, this time burning strong, true and bright. Pure white light that will lead us and others out of the smoky grey of shame and into the rainbow light of His love.
Under His compulsion…