There is something soothing about watching fire. I have always loved a good roaring fire in the fireplace on a freezing cold day. I enjoy the delicious juxtaposition of sitting by a fire while watching snow fall. There is something equally mesmerizing about loafing around a campfire. I remember being at a family camp event once and several families were gathered around the campfire. One person really wanted all of us to sing, but the songs kept dying out because everybody was just relaxing, watching the fire and drifting off into our own thoughts. And who doesn't love a bonfire? Have an outdoor gathering and as darkness creeps in - where do all the people gravitate? The bonfire, of course!
I do realize not all fire is soothing. I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, smack at the bottom of the San Bernardino Mountain range in Southern California. California is basically a desert most of the time. For the majority of my childhood we endured drought conditions. Mom tried hard to get us to flush the toilets with water we saved from our showers and to be careful about leaving water running when brushing our teeth or washing our hands. It was a very dry state and we were furthered cautioned constantly about fire danger. I heard the story of “Smokey the Bear” I don’t know how many times in school and at home. I learned the importance of NEVER playing with fire outside and that I should make sure when I was finished with a campfire or BBQ, to be certain the fire was completely out before I left the area. A single spark could wreak havoc on the dry timber which was everywhere.
One day, a visitor in the mountains behind our home carelessly threw a cigarette out the window of his car. That one cigarette ignited dry brush by the roadside which ignited a forest fire which spread rapidly across the entire mountain range. We had had occasional forest fires in the past, but that was the first one I could remember which caught the entire ring of mountains around our valley on fire. It was the first time I could remember smelling smoke all day and all night long - there was no escaping it. It was the first time ash rained constantly, gently from the sky. It was the first time night was not completely dark, instead, everything was cast in an orange and flickering glow. I would stand in the front yard and hold out my hands to catch ashes while I watched in fascination, horror, and sadness as the mountains burned. Many evenings I found I could not tear myself away so powerful was the lure of the inferno nearby. Whenever I went outside, my eyes were drawn instantly to the mountains, focusing on the fire. That fire burned for a long time, too. It was difficult to contain and consumed many acres of mountainside before the last ember was quenched.
So what is so fascinating about fire? I think it represents many things to me in a spiritual sense. For one, warmth. I do not like to be cold, not even a little, and fire warms me up so quickly. I love it! The warmth is comforting which leads me to appreciate the comfort I receive when I spend time in prayer and contemplation. If you've never tried making time for prayer and contemplation - give it a shot!
Another captivating aspect of fire is the power it holds. I was fascinated and amazed in a horrifyingly interested way at the incredible power I witnessed in the forest fire. It seemed like nothing could stop it. Helicopters flew from Lake Havasu and others, filling tanks with thousands of gallons of water and then hovering over hot spots in the blaze to pour the water over the fire. From where I stood, it looked like they were sprinkling water over the flames and it pretty much had the same effect. Firefighters dug trenches, the fires jumped them. They soaked peoples’ houses and yards and the fire devoured them anyway. The seemingly invincible power displayed in the forest fire makes me think of Hebrews 12:28-29:
“Do you see what we've got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!” My God is powerful. Comforting and awe-inspiring at the same time.
The last impressive characteristic fire brings is light. Light emanates from the eery glow of the forest fire to the blazing torch used to guide the way on the darkest path. It illuminates and reveals the reality of our surroundings. When light comes into a place, darkness has no choice but to leave. Have you ever had the dark of night overcome the light of the campfire? Nope. And we are creatures of light so we gravitate toward it. Hence, the name of this organization. The Torch. My vision is for the food truck, the programs, the people, the dreams - all of it to come together as a bright light shining a beacon of hope. I want to show people how kindness and love are done and teach them to pass it along. Every single event, every single food truck appearance will be covered in prayer and ablaze with Hope and the fuel will be our faith.
Follow The Torch!