Some people confuse fireworks with fire. It’s likely the same people that confuse temporary with eternal. Even though the Word tells us that the things which are seen are temporary and the things which are not seen are eternal, we’re still trying to reenact Thomas poking his finger into Christ’s side because it’s a far more engaging story to tell than walking with Him.
Which would make the better blockbuster? A lifelong journey of Jesus leading and you following, or getting to stick your finger in His side? One is fireworks; the other is fire. One is a good story, and the other is the fullness of His presence, growing daily and bringing you into a deeper understanding of who He is.
Fireworks are entertaining enough, people clap with glee at seeing the bright lights in the sky, but they fizzle out, and after the show is done, back to the darkness of night you go. Fire, on the other hand, keeps you warm at night and keeps you from freezing to death. A fire, whether a torch or a lamp, helps you see where you’re going and allows you to navigate treacherous terrain. Fireworks just ruin your night vision, and once they’re over, you’re worse off than when you started.
If you stoke a fire, it will burn in perpetuity. The same cannot be said for fireworks. Once they’re done, they’re done, and no amount of blowing, poking, or prodding will keep them alive. When people aren’t interested in the fire but chasing after fireworks, it’s only a matter of time before they grow disillusioned, even angry, denouncing the very existence of fire because everything they’d ever seen burned out as soon as it flared up.
Fire also keeps the wolves at bay. They’ll circle the fire, and they’ll get close, but only to a certain point, because they know that with enough light from the flame, their true nature will be exposed. A wolf will never be comfortable anywhere where the real fire is present. They will flee it and avoid it because they have no recourse against it. If they wander too close, the fire will burn them. If they come into the light, they will be unmasked for what they are.
Why is this generation so unsatisfied with fire and what it’s supposed to do? They draw close to the fire, it brings life back into their limbs, the icicles melt from their hearts, they become animated and alive, they feel protected and warm, then turn around and with the sour face of the unimpressed ask, is that all it does? That’s not very entertaining. I expected more.
But the fire returned you to life, the fire kept you warm, and the fire allowed you to see; why would it not be enough? What more is there? Entertainment? You want entertainment? Buy a cat and a laser pointer if entertainment is what you’re after.
This journey, His presence, the fire, the power, these weren’t intended to satisfy your need to be entertained. They were intended to keep you alive and surefooted on the path to eternity.
For the seventeen years, our family lived in California, we lived in an apartment that was three miles away from Disneyland. After we had settled some, my dad had gotten a job, and we had a car, every so often, we would drive to a Travelodge that was across the street from the main entrance, park in their parking lot, and watch the fireworks show that Disneyland put on every night.
It was never as exciting as the first time we saw it, and eventually, after the eighth or ninth time, it became ordinary. Eventually, we stopped going because it was no longer impressive enough to warrant the ten-minute drive. The same can’t be said about fire, though. It doesn’t matter how many times I see the flames dance in the fireplace; if I’m coming in from the cold, I go and warm my hands, thankful for its warmth.
There’s a reason the term time-tested has cemented itself in the American dialect. There’s a reason there are variations of it in every language under the sun. It’s because the test of time reveals the truth of things better than anything else.
All you have to do is look back to see what endured and what fizzled into obscurity. What had staying power, and what faded away faster than the bell-bottom pants craze. All these are indicators and clues as to how things will play out in the near future because history has a way of repeating itself that is self-evident. No, history does not repeat itself because we are in the matrix. It repeats itself because human nature remains the same. Therefore, the resulting ripple effects will mimic the previous ones.
What history teaches us is simple: movements based on the charisma of an individual fade into obscurity faster than any other. Those based on philosophy have a longer hang time but fade away all the same. What remains, what abides, what has endured everything from the Roman coliseums, to the Ottoman aggression, to the Armenian genocide, to the Soviet gulags, was simple faith and the Word of God.
No fireworks, just fire. No show, just substance. No feelings, just faith. No entertainment, just power. No obfuscations, just truth. No surrogates, just Jesus.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea, Jr.