Only you can start forest fires

Smokey the Bear
Image via Wikipedia

Do you remember Smokey the Bear and his somber admonition: “Only you…can prevent forest fires”?

Growing up in the rugged wilderness of the Pacific Northwest, Smokey was a regular fixture in my childhood—it seemed that his cuddly face adorned the gate of nearly every park entrance in Washington State, and our local Forest Service frequently passed out stickers and flyers that bore his motto. I always liked Smokey and I always vowed to help him with his mission—at least until God started working in my life and I realized that there are some fires need to be started.

Even Jesus said so. He said in Luke 12:49 “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled.”

St. Francis of Assisi understood this, and gave voice to it in his famous prayer:



“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying [to ourselves] that we are born to eternal life.”

What match has YOUR name on it? What fire are YOU supposed to kindle so that the flames of God’s love and purpose can continue to spread in the world around us?

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