Up In Smoke
It was a Friday night, and we needed to get the pixies out of the house. The weather was beautiful, the sun out in full force, and we were ready for a night out in Oxford. It's no small feat gathering three little girls together to get out the front door before the bus comes.
"Where's my purse?"
"Where's my bus card?"
"I want to wear my pink hat with this dress not my purple one!"
It's amazing how young a sense of fashion can instill itself in a little soul.
We miraculously made the bus and were finally on our way into the city.
The closer we got to the city, however, we began to realize something was in the air. And, when we finally made it into city center we saw what all the commotion was about. The historic Randolph Hotel was on fire.
The five-star Randolph Hotel in the centre of Oxford is an iconic property. Built in 1864, the hotel is Victorian Gothic in style and was a regular feature in the TV series Inspector Morse, where it was depicted as one of the detective's favourite haunts.
We were on our way to The White Rabbit Pub, which is directly behind the hotel, but we could not get anywhere near it. Everything was sectioned off by police tape and the air was filled with smoke as helicopters hovered above.
To see thick black smoke erupting from this exquisite, 150-year-old building makes one realize the frailty of life. We prayed for safety for those in the hotel, wisdom for the firefighters, and containment of the fire.
My girls could not stop talking about the "potion" that ignited the fire, as we soon learned it was a chemical fire. And, as they talked incessentaly over hamburgers about what kind of "potion" started the fire, I began to think about the potion of my own life.
The Potion of My Days
The sum of my days are creating a "potion", an offering to the Lord. Each decision I make, each path I take are my offering to my Savior. But sometimes, if I'm honest, the potion of my days seem like a chemical reaction about to take place.
In Psalms 102:3 we find David crying out, "For my days consume away like smoke. My bones are burned as a firebrand."
How often do I feel like David; my days withering away, the energy burned from my bones? Do the little things I do day to day really matter in the scheme of the eternal? How does potty training this two-year old stand up to the fires of eternity?
When asked to preach at the invitation of Canon Milford in October of 1939, C.S. Lewis talked about this idea of the secular and sacred. He preached, "Religion cannot occupy the whole of life in the sense of excluding all our natural activities ... It must occupy the whole of life ... Christianity does not exclude any of the ordinary human activities."
Christianity does not exclude any of my ordinary human activities.
Bandaids on boo boos. Slicing apples and carrots. Emptying the potty.
All of these ordinary human activities are sacred when offered to God. Lewis continues, "The work of a Beethoven and the work of a charwoman become spiritual on precisely the same condition, that of being offered to God, of being done humbly 'as to the Lord'."
And that is the key, is it not? Humility.
This Humble Offering
In I Corinthians 3:13 the apostle Paul said, "Each man's work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself will test what sort of work each man's work is."
I cannot disguise the state of my heart from The Lord. The offering of my life is either done in humility or pride. Will I humble myself to live the days He has ordained for me, filled with gratitude for all these little gifts? Or, will my pride demand bigger, better, more?
Humility evokes one to see beauty.
When I humbly accept the gift of three lovely little girls demanding their mother's attention, I bask in the beauty of their lives. When I humbly offer my time to my husband's research, I behold the beauty of two becoming one flesh. When I humbly give my neighbor a cup of hot tea, I breech the beauty of loving another as myself.
"Humility ... encourages us to concentrate simply on the ... beauty, not too much concerning ourselves," preached Lewis.
One day this earth is going to go up in smoke, just like the Randolph hotel. The heavens will disappear with a roar and the elements destroyed by fire.
"Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?" (2 Peter 3:11a)
May our lives be a potion of humility.
May our days be filled with the sacredness of the ordinary.
May our offering go up in smoke as a sacrifice to God.