One of the most dangerous and most helpful things in this part of Oklahoma is a grass fire. I say it’s most dangerous because of the winds that blow constantly. A small spark can get out of control and before you know it a raging destructive fire can char hundreds of acres. It’s helpful because although it’s destructive it also burns off old grasses and weeds and a new landscape is born from the ashes. Ranchers will set them on purpose (it’s called a controlled burn), to get the new grass to grow. This year I noticed that it only took a couple of weeks for the charred hills to turn a beautiful green.
In the past, many of the grass fires were fought with wet toe-sacks. Every small home or farm had a few of them lying around. They were used for a variety of things. When a fast-moving grass fire broke out they were submerged in the horse trough and used to beat the fire out. A line of residents from around the area would be called on to step up to the fire line and beat out the oncoming wall of flames. With bandanas around their nose and mouth men, women and children would line up and beat the fire until it was no more.
Every church has one or more of these wet toe-sack brigades. The spark of a fire breaks out in a church or in the life of someone and they gather their compatriots and head to the water trough, toe-sack in hand. They usually don’t wait too long, because they know if they let such a thing spread the wind of the Holy Spirit will blow and the fire will quickly be out of their control. To these rugged defenders of all things status quo, a charred landscape would be devastating. Things would not be the same. “Sure, there is some deadness around, but we’re used to it”, they reason. So, they beat out the flames with their criticism, apathy, and down right meanness. Before too long the fire is over and their right back where they were, solidly in control.
This phenomenon is nothing new. Jesus dealt with a wet toe-sack brigade back when he was on earth. They were called Pharisees. When he healed a blind man on the Sabbath they tried their best to put of the fire. Jesus knew what they were doing and basically called them false shepherds and thieves. In John 10:10 he said, “…I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” Sure, he healed the blind man on the Sabbath. The fire blew threw his life and burned out the old so that the new would spring forth. Instead of rejoicing the toe-sack brigade was more concerned about when he did it. They totally missed the point. It was about Jesus giving life to the full.
It becomes increasing difficult for leaders in the Kingdom to put down their toe-sacks. Things are just not the way they used to be, and we are unsure of ourselves these days. It’s time to let Jesus bring life. Let the wind blow. Sure, it will be hard to see the old burn off, but new life will come as a result. Put down your toe-sack.