Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!
James 3:5 NKJV
Have you ever wondered how sometimes trivial things turn into massive things that spin out of control and wondered how that happened? Maybe a firebreak would help.
I was reading a book and one character in the book kept having to put out fires. Another character in the book asked why didn’t he just put in a firebreak. For those who don’t know, according to dictionary.com, a firebreak is a strip of plowed or cleared land made to check the spread of a prairie or forest fire.
I got to thinking about how this applied to my life. My first thoughts were of things being taken away that are unproductive or causing me to stumble. But that is more like pruning. Like trimming branches from a tree that aren’t growing right or just don’t need to be there. Then the tree can stop focusing energy on those branches and put it toward the ones that are left and be healthier for it.
In my walk with God, sometimes pruning goes on. Maybe I’m doing things for God, but He’s never asked me to do those things. I’m wasting energy on those things and so He cuts them off or cuts me off from them. It could be many things and by Him pruning me, I can focus my energy on what He wants me to do and be better at it. Pruning takes place after the fact.
They put a firebreak in before things go haywire. Sometimes they’re put in after the fire starts. A location is picked and a hasty firebreak is made, but most of the time they are pre-planned and made ahead of time. It takes thought and planning to pick the spot where a firebreak will be most effective.
At the beginning of the school year in my daughter’s second grade class, the teacher noticed that two of the students who were sitting on the same side of the room couldn’t get along with each other. So, she had one of them sit on the other side of the room before any major conflicts happened. That was a firebreak. Separating them before any fires started.
How does God put firebreaks in my life? Does He tell me not to be friends with certain people because He knows it won’t end well? I can pray for them, but I shouldn’t develop any relationship with them. He has other people lined up to be witnesses to them, but for me, I need to steer clear and just pray for them. Maybe it’s keeping me from getting a certain job. A job I thought would be good for me, but God knew it was the wrong choice for me, so He puts a firebreak to prevent me from getting it.
In the same token though, maybe He’s put people in my life to act as a firebreak. They’re people I can go to when I need prayer or encouragement or just someone to listen. Maybe it’s the church He has me go to.
Having firebreaks in place doesn’t mean I won’t have the wind blow smoldering embers into my neck of the woods. But if I have been soaking myself in God’s word, praying and fellowshiping with other Christians, then those embers will fizzle out and I won’t even notice them. Sometimes a lighting strike (sudden tragedy), can start a fire. That’s when my friends and church can act as fire extinguishers to help put it out. The fire will start, but it won’t rage out of control and consume me. Also, if I’ve been soaking in God’s word and pursuing my relationship with Him, it won’t have much dry timber to consume. I haven’t let myself get spiritually dry, so I’m not consumed by the smallest spark.
In closing, what do you think are firebreaks in your life? What do you think you can intentionally do to put firebreaks in? Can you think of any times where having a firebreak kept a small thing from becoming a big thing?