The early fall evening on the last night of the camping trip was cool, but the glowing coals cast their warmth and glow across us all. Twenty high school students, many from other countries,
and a few leaders sat on logs and blankets, faces illuminated while backs grew frigid. The fire had been impressive. Stacks and stacks of hardwood burned clean and hot, reduced now to a wide, deep bed of hot embers.
One of the students, Jack, broke the silence. “In my religion, only the most devout believers can firewalk without harm. They must be pure in mind and have separated themselves from all wrong desires. It’s proof of the condition of their hearts.”
Others from his country nodded. “True, true,” they said.
“Science,” I said from across the coals. “It’s science. Not religion.”
“No,” he shot back with a smile. “It is not science. This is truth. Only those who believe can do it. You couldn’t. You’re a Christian.”
I smiled back. Silence fell again. It was past ten o’clock in the evening, but two worldviews faced each other at high noon. I nodded…and reached down to untie my boots.
“Leidenfrost effect,” I said as the first boot thumped to the ground. I continued. “The moisture from skin and dew makes a protective boundary of steam. It’s why people can eat fire in the circus, put out a candle with a wet finger and why a water droplet will skitter around on a hot pancake griddle.”
“This is bigger than a griddle,” another leader leaned in and murmured to me.
I stopped as I pulled off the second boot, “Widen it, and level it out for me,” I said and motioned toward the coals. Two students grabbed sticks and raked the embers into a thick, even layer twelve feet across. As the fresh air moved over the surface, the coals glowed more brightly, and the heat intensified.
Barefooted now, I rolled my jeans up. The dew was cool under my toes.
“There are principles that govern the universe,” I stated. “Principles set in place by God. After all, He created all things.” I took a step onto the coals. They crunched underfoot. I kept moving, kept talking. A nervous energy moved through the watchers. The rising heat tugged at my breath. “But this isn’t about belief in God…” More steps. The gap closed as I moved toward Jack and addressed him. “This is about an understanding of some physical laws, laws of a universe ordered by Him, and the willingness to act upon them.” Two more steps. I stood in front of him, my shadow cast across his face as he sat on the log. “Yes, I am a Christian, but that fact doesn’t change the principles of heat exchange and gases and the composition of the human body,” I said as I walked back into the coals. “But,” I said as I raised my forefinger and turned in the middle of the pit before I sauntered back toward this bewildered student. “According to you, I should not be able to do this at all. Right?”
My foot cleared the fire pit, and the cool grass kissed its sole.
I stood there for a long moment. There was total silence.
Smiling in the firelight, I stretched out an open hand to him, palm up.
“Firewalk with me, Jack.”
He looked up at me.
“I…I don’t understand. How…? No. No, I won’t do that.” He rose, looked at me again and said, “I’m going to think…and sleep.” Walking around the coals, he crawled into his tent and zipped the flap shut.
After a little while, the s’mores came out, and the heat from the coals was so great that chocolate and marshmallows melted easily. We all talked into the night about truth, belief and faith, and other worldviews began to soften and melt as well.
The next morning, Jack talked to some of the leaders about mistaken belief and what had happened around that fire. Although he didn’t decide to believe in God, he did realize some things he thought to be true were not.
I thought about that incident just this morning. Here lately, my faith is being tested.
(You too, right?)
This morning, after replaying that night around the fire in my head again, I sensed God saying, “You trusted and acted upon a scientific principle more readily, easily and boldly than you usually trust and act upon my truth.”
Why is it easier for me to trust a scientific principle than the God who created the principle?
Don’t I want to be known for a boldness of faith arising from a total dependence upon Him and His power?
Why would we ever doubt Him?
When you don’t know what to do, do what you do know to do. How will you ever hear Him give direction on the big things if you refuse to obey Him in the little things? Don’t make the mistake of believing that everything comfortable now is His will for you. Anything truly good is from God, but not everything that feels good is from God. Some of the most cushy couches are in Hell’s foyer.
You’re likely facing it too.
Maybe today, maybe even now, you look across that fire pit and can not make out the other side. Yet God stands there beside you, stretches out His hand and says…
“Firewalk with Me.”
How will you respond?
Anything less than “yes” is a “no.”
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. (Is. 43:2).