I’ve begun reading “Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009” edited by David Eggars, for fun recently . Probably not the best book to be reading on an airplane, as the cover depicts a grandmother reading her granddaughter a gun magazine, and with chapters like “The Ticking is the Bomb”, it just feels iffy.
It includes an assortment of different types of published works from various sources throughout 2008. Foreign comics, essays, short stories, and other brief works from all sorts of publications, compile what has been a pretty great read thus far. I look forward to more.
One of the entries, from the Paris Review, “Diary of a Fire Lookout”, by Philip Connors, made me compare what often happens in ministry to his summer employment. During the summer months, at the Gila National Forest, in New Mexico, he looks out a giant tower and spots plumes of smoke, reporting them to the Forest patrols, etc.
One thing he points out, is that most often they don’t actually DO anything in response to the fires. They announce what is happening. They keep tabs on it. Sometimes they even fly someone in for a better look to assess what is going on, and how large the fire is. But usually it’s allowed to simply burn its course, being surrounded by so much open land. This is for good reasons, and he explains them well.
In ministry, we are often the “Fire Lookout”. Both in a negative (things going wrong) sense, and in a positive (Holy Spirit moving) sense. It can be easy for us to feel like our job (not just pastors, but followers of Christ) is to point out and announce what is happening. We keep tabs on it. Sometimes we even do something unique to get a better look and assess what is going on. But how often do we interact with it? Get our hands scarred a bit by our proximity to the flame?
May we not only announce the plumes of smoke we see rising in the Kingdom around us….but may we get our hands dirty and singe our eyebrows by being active where God can utilize us in very important ways….