My buddy, Jake, was anxious to show me his newest find. It was a model rocket engine, a cylinder wrapped in brown paper about the size of a small cigar. “Where did you find it?”
“Those high school kids were launching rockets in the park and they left this one behind.”
“Wow, does it still work?”
“I don’t know, let’s try!”
I was eight years old, growing up in Honolulu. Our family home was located on a dead end street with only ten homes and was bordered by a drainage canal. Jake and I spent many hours playing in this drainage canal, usually riding our skateboards. Today, we would embark upon an experiment. We scurried down the walls of the canal and on the bottom, found a dried bush. We placed the engine in the bush and lit the bush. The rocket engine ignited and with a bright yellow flare engulfed the entire bush. A gray black smoke cloud filled the canal and brought neighbors to their fences to look down and investigate. Unfortunately one of the neighbors recognized me and walked straight to my house. I knew what was next. “Oh great, we gotta clean this up, now!” We scooped up some water from the small stream that was in the canal and extinguished the bush. Too late. My father appeared at the top of the canal and yelled at both of us to immediately get out.
As I was being scolded and received the punishment of being grounded for a month, the television broadcast a live brush fire burning houses in another part of Honolulu. Perfect timing. “You see that?” My father pointed at the television. “You want to be responsible for something like that? People’s houses are burning because of stupid kids like you playing with fire!” I slunked off to my room and contemplated how stupid I was. It wouldn’t be the last time.
The aphorism, “You play with fire, you’re going to get burned.” is ripe with applications for my life. It is based upon the Biblical Proverb.
Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared?
Proverbs 6:27-28 (NKJV)
Over fifty years later, have I learned my lesson? Perhaps I don’t attempt to ignite rocket engines in a drainage canal, but sometimes common sense escapes me and I embark on equally reckless escapades. Why do I think that this time it will be different and I won’t get caught? Why do I think that this time the fire of sin will not burn me as I hold it close to me? Haven’t I learned anything?
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
James 1:14-15 (NKJV)
God does not lead me into temptation. My friend may have encouraged me but it is my sinful nature that is solely responsible. I do not hate the sins in my life enough to be willing to extinguish it. Instead, I let it smolder, ready to ignite under the right circumstances, inevitably consuming me.
I must embrace God and hold Him close to me instead of the sins that I have been holding too near.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.