A few months ago, I needed to dye something for my daughter, so I got a big plastic bin and took it out to the backyard so that there would be no dripping or splashing while I stirred the garment in the deeply colored water.
Oh, and just a bit of advice? A broken off hockey stick is ideal for stirring something that big. It’s probably what witches use in their cauldrons. In Canada.
I kid of course.
Dying clothes also calls for very hot water, so I boiled some water in my biggest stock pot, and heated my tea kettle to get that job done. And I remember that when I carried the tea kettle outside and poured it into the bucket, I then set down the empty kettle on the patio near me, knowing it couldn’t hurt the concrete.
When the job was done, and I returned every piece of equipment to it’s proper place: the stock pot in the cupboard, the plastic bin to the garage, the tea kettle back on the stove…
Well a day or two later, I heated the kettle for some tea, and started to smell something…. Earthy. Woodsy. I found myself thinking about our camping trip, because of that smell. It took me a few minutes to trace it, but what I found was a leaf, stuck to the bottom of the kettle. It was burning, and it smelled sweet and delicious in a way, and it made me happy, because it brought back the pleasant memories of our vacation.
There are interesting passages in the Bible that have to do with fire, but one of my favorites is 1 Corinthians 3:13, “Each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done.”
The point of the passage is that not everything we do for others is valued the way we think it is. I mean, we just can’t say what is of great value to God, you know? Look at the widow’s mite ~ not very much, but it was a gesture of immense value to Him. He knows our hearts and He knows our motives. He knows when we’re sincere, and when we’re putting on a show for those around us. And He will judge our deeds accordingly. If our actions are built on the foundation of Jesus Christ, they will survive.
The best news is, though, that we ourselves matter to Him. Though our selfishness will not last through the fire, we will. “If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved.” (v 15)
Fire and fragrance. That leaf didn’t have much to offer me, but it smelled wonderful as it burned. Just like the wood in our campfire. Not every “good deed” of yours or mine is as good as it looks ~ to us or to those around us. But we are precious to Him just the same. He is just and merciful, and in the end, He will value only what is worthy of value.