But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility... Eph. 2:13-14

Tuesday, February 26

We dream in the night of a King and a Kingdom where Joy writes the Songs and the Innocent sing Them

And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Revelation 5:8

And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of  all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Revelation 8:3,4

Have you ever sat and watched incense burn? It's mesmerizing. The smoke swirls up, sometimes smooth, sometimes jerking around at the smallest invisible puff of air. Dancing slowly up and out, it hangs about you in a faint cloud, and then melts into a sweet, woody scent that stays with you long after it has all burned away. So far it's the loveliest, most peaceful way I've found to make my room smell nice.

This evening as I lit a stick of frankincense, I was thinking about how strict God was in his regulations on which incense was burned when in the temple. It made sense to me that God would want something so beautiful and sweet to be a part of worshipping Him. And then I remembered these verses in Revelation.

He enjoys our prayers like that! OUR prayers! Part of me wonders if He made the burning of incense such a beautiful thing just to show us what our prayers are like to Him. He probably had many more wonderful reasons that I'm not noticing, but it's a special thought.

Another thing I noticed about incense is that the stick itself gets almost no attention at all. I light it and it slowly smokes down to ash. All of the focus is on the pleasure that the product of its burning gives me.

That's me, you know? On my own, I'm nothing special. I look no different than the lame little punk you get to help you light fireworks, except that I've been coated with something that turns my burning into something beautiful.

Here I am, living a life that seems so pathetically insignificant. Every day the ember moves further down and more of my life is ash. And yet! And yet this lame life drives me day after day to prayer, and that prayer is more beautiful, more cherished than I could ever imagine! These prayers that seem so insignificant are swirling up before God, and He enjoys them!

It's a humbling, trembling thought that someone as unimportant as I could be pleasing to Him (only through Christ, of course)! Maybe right now He doesn't want me to be some bonfire of passion and action. Maybe He just wants a little incense stick to smolder her way to eternity and fill the air with the sweet scent of her prayers.

I can do that. By the grace of God, I can do that!

*Title taken from lyrics by Andrew Peterson in his song 'Carry the Fire'