When my wife and I left the Baptist Church that we had served at for eight years, with our fledgling family of two children ages three and one respectively, we left with a sense of expectancy for what the Lord had in store ahead for us. We had made the decision to leave the congregation because we were hungry for more of God, and to be honest, were concerned that our kids might starve with the limited Gospel we felt that they actively pursued at that church. I had learned many lessons there and personally left greatly humbled and totally open to do anything in the service of our Master.
But despite all the anticipation of good things ahead, it was with more than just a bit of anxiety as we walked passed the swimming pool and recreation area of the large hotel and convention center in our home town to the room where a tiny fellowship of believers that was pastored by a graduate of the same Bible College that I would eventually attend met. Many of our fears were confirmed when we opened the door to what was simply a normal hotel room void of all furniture except for a few rows of metal folding chairs!
Then when the pastor’s wife got up to lead the singing with nothing but the accompaniment of a tambourine, my wife and I looked at each other and our eyes met and spoke silently to each other saying: “What did we get ourselves into?” You must understand that we had just left a prosperous and beautifully appointed American Baptist Church that was one of the two leading churches of that denomination in that district. The sanctuary was gorgeous with dark woods, plush carpets, a large platform surrounded on three sides with pews situated on a sloping floor like a theater and highlighted with beautiful modern stained glass windows.
To say that the bland, funky little motel room took us by surprise would be greatly underestimating its effect on us! But when the Pastor stood up and began to open up the Word to all of us sitting in that room, my mouth fell open and any awareness of all the trappings of the room and the lack of pizazz vanished. Suddenly my heart was ablaze with a roaring fire from deep inside and I glanced over to my wife who had that same look on her face and we KNEW that we were there to stay! And although those Pastors eventually moved on and the name of the church and the pastors changed a few times since then, my wife and I kept the foundation of that church together along with its basic makeup and depth of the Biblical truths taught and that fellowship still lives on today in our home town.
The remembrance of that flame that was ignited in me on that fateful day on the first of January in 1984, was stirred up over this last weekend as I read down from the scripture we studied most of last week in Luke 24:5. It tells of the time when the two men travelling on the road to Emmaus following the events of Jesus’ death in Jerusalem, were met by a stranger who joined them and began to expound the truths of the Word concerning what had just happened. Once their eyes were opened to the identity of the stranger being Jesus himself, He disappeared from their sight. Their immediate reaction was to state: “Wasn’t it like a fire burning in us when he talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32 The Good News Bible)
As I read that I knew EXACTLY what they meant! We felt that same fire deep inside us over thirty years ago and over the many years since we have sought to keep that glow alive in us. Following Bible School and the attack on my wife’s health, that fire has increased in intensity. Looking back now, I think that the lack of that heat in some folks close to us is what threw me for a loop when we looked to them for agreement and support. That explains the emptiness I definitely felt while in the very midst of one group of individuals and physically and emotionally drained while with others.
That fire burning inside of them is what energized and caused the two men on the road to Emmaus to immediately turn around and head back to Jerusalem even though they had been walking all day and it was now dark! The Word that was opened up to them enlightened them and they had to go share it with their friends. I bet that they stopped and shared the Good News with everyone they met on their return journey… and if I read the book of Acts correctly, they did that for MANY years to come!
That is why I look forward to my morning times with the Lord in Bible study each day. Even though I may wake without much energy like today, I know that a few intimate moments spent alone with Him in His Word will stir up that fire inside and energize and empower me for whatever He has for me to accomplish that day! Then when I get Piper up I am ready to share all the goodies and strength that I have received! John 1:4 tells us that “In Him was life and that life was the light of men.” (NKJV)
Now that is the life that I have come to depend on over all these years since meeting in that funky bland room at the old El Rancho Hotel and Conference Center (that now is a Costco and regional shopping center!) I’ve heard it said many times that “One Word from God can change your life.” Well, it wasn’t just one Word that changed my life, but like the two men on the road to Emmaus, it was the Word opened up that lit that fire that has never gone out in me!
Have you experienced that fire? Have a great week. Stay in tune to God’s Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s Word am I expecting to ignite a FIRE in me today?”