Angela was your typical teenager. As such, she often didn’t eat right , get enough sleep, etc. Many teens, including as when we were younger, act and talk as though they are invincible. Not enough sleep? No problem! Just catch up on some Zs later on. Eat healthy! Forget about it!
Well, even teen bodies wear down after a time of abuse, and so Angela came down with a nasty cold. So, she took some Nyquil and decided to get some rest for a change. She felt chilled, so she got out her space heater, unplugged something from the overloaded power strip and plugged in the heater. Finally warm and with the medicine taking effect, she finally dozed off.
Even though her mother nagged her a lot, Angela’s room was a bit of a mess. She had some cola cans in various places, and sometimes she would get chewed out in the summer time because that drew ants. However, it was cold weather now, and the vigilant oversight of her mother softened with no ants in the house. In the middle of the night, Angela unknowingly kicked over one of the cola cans that still had liquid in it, and it poured into the power strip. Due to the medication, Angela never woke up when this happened.
Instead, Angela woke up in the hospital. She was confused about where she was and how she got there. The nurse tried to calm her down and kept reassuring her she was alright, her mother was alright and her brother was alright.
“What happened?” she asked.
The nurse began to explain that 911 received a phone call about a house fire, and that it turned out to be her house. Her mother and brother had made it outside, but Angela was apparently still inside. The firemen arrived along with the paramedics, and one of the firemen gained entrance through the back of the house and found Angela still asleep in her room. He carried her outside, where she was immediately treated for smoke inhalation and carted off to the hospital.
Later that day, Angela is released. While her narrow escape from death left her still emotionally troubled, she really was OK physically and released. As she walked out, she meets a handsome young man named Richard. It turns out that Richard is the firefighter that saved her life. “Oh, thank you so much! You are my rescuer! You are my savior!” she weeps as she hugs him. Angela’s mom gets Richard’s address and phone number so they could invite him over once their lives are back together.
Thus, Angela was saved from a very tragic ending.
You have seen those books where you can pick alternative endings? Well, this is just such a story as well. Please read these alternate endings and see which one makes sense to you:
1. Angela is forever grateful. She realizes how close of a brush with death she had, and so she dedicates her life to fire safety and prevention.
2. Angela thinks she has already been rescued once, and so now she believes she is immune to fire. She goes out and takes risks by entering burning buildings whenever she sees them. After all, once you’ve been saved, you’re always saved.
3. Angela throws herself at Richard, and they marry. However, she never really changes. She still plugs in all sorts of devices into cheap power strips, which causes arguments between her and Richard. She doesn’t understand why he is so uptight. Eventually, she accidently starts another fire, which results in the loss of most of what they had built up.
23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23, King James Version)
3I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3, King James Version)
38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38, King James Version)
18When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. (Acts 11:18, King James Version)
Nice story. As with all analogies however, they have weaknesses. Interesting that this story's focus is on Angela and her ability to avoid setting fires, rather than it being on the Fireman. Focus is off Jesus and onto Angela and her abilities – problem #1!
Problem #2: The Fireman in this story is reduced to, well, a physical Fireman – on the same level, but with more knowledge than Angela about how to prevent fires. He does rescue, but interestingly in the optional endings the Fireman is downplayed, especially His power to continue saving. Angela nowhere turns to the fireman who saved her and dedicates her life to following him, but turns back to her *works* to AVOID having to have the Fireman save her in the future. Interesting.
Most importantly is the Fireman's inability to change Angela's arsonist heart. We love to focus on ourselves and our need for good deeds and all the while reduce Jesus' role, don't we? Please hear me, I don't think that was intentional. It's just natural, carnal to downplay Jesus' role. And that's the problem.
See My Optional Ending #4 below.
My optional ending #4: Angela comes to the realization that she didn't just behave like an accidental teenager, but she is an arsonist at heart. Who is she fooling? She loves fire, although sometimes they get out of control and do great damage.
But this Fireman has saved her life and out of duty she feels obligated to marry Him. So she does. It's a so-so marriage and she even cheated on Richard a number of times by getting involved with chat rooms, porn and other adulterous things.
One day, she can't help herself. She sets fire to the house and due to her love of fire decides to remain in the burning house as long as possible to watch the burning. Amazing. She loves it!
Suddenly she realizes she's starting to choke and can't see. She then realizes she can't find the way out and she's starting to burn. She yells for help and collapses.
She wakes up in the hospital to find out Richard has pulled her out yet again from the fire, but in the meantime He has died a brutal death saving her.
This convicts her and causes her to feel great guilt. She becomes so despondent with grief one night and decides to take her own life by setting fire to her apartment. When looking for matches she discovers a book she thought was Richard's Fire Prevention manual. It turns out it not only has much to say about fire and fire prevention, but tells a beautiful prophetic story of Richard's undying love for Angela even though she has been unfaithful and not really fully committed.
Angela is so convicted of her guilt of "killing Richard" she fully and readily admits she's an arsonist at heart, repents and believes fully that Richard will somehow save her from her arsonist ways.
As she reads the book she finds its really a love letter written to her from Richard. In fact He begins to speak to her daily through the book and love letters.
She falls madly in love with Richard and realizes she can communicate to Him and Him to her. She notices as she spends more time communicating with Richard (the Fireman) that He begins melting (sorry for the pun) her heart.
Never will she want to set fires again, but she is assured by Richard in the book and love letters that if she does so accidentally or even intentionally He will always love her unconditionally. He will never leave her or forsake her. That's a faithful promise. That's why He saved her life to begin with.
This love commitment causes Angela to tell all her friends and family, even strangers about Richard's undying love for her. Angela notices as the "flame" (sorry about that) of her first love dies down a bit, she's tempted back to set fires. But deep in her heart she knows Richard loves her and is looking out for her. So that drives her back to him in repentance.
His forgiveness, mercy, love and communication is just amazing. The more time she spends with Richard, the less she wants to play with matches. She also finds if she focuses on what not to do, that spurs her heart to want to play more and more with fire. She finds she sets more fires than when she spends time with Richard.
Over the next 30 years she learns much about Richard's love for her. For example, His commitment and faithfulness when she set fire to her sister's car. How dumb was that, but He still loved me through it all. Her life has been unbelievably incredible with Richard there beside her.
As her life comes to a close Angela lies dying in bed, matches are still close by in the nightstand, but so is the love letters. Her focus is now fully on Richard. She is still tempted with arson, but she now looks forward to the wedding of her and Richard. What a blessing that will be!! She will see Him face-to-face.
The way to stop setting fires is change the heart by surrendering to the Fireman.
@Anonymous: Yes, analogies have flaws. And, of course, a fireman is still a fireman. However, Angela had choices, and God doesn't remove those from us.
"Angela nowhere turns to the fireman who saved her and dedicates her life to following him, but turns back to her *works* to AVOID having to have the Fireman save her in the future."
"Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
Anonymous wrote: "So that drives her back to him in repentance."
Well, now there's that R word. Seems like she must be trying to live by some list of rules if she feels guilty enough to do that.
Optional ending #4 may have shed some new light on your life. Jesus loves you deeply and faithfully. The Holy Spirit tells us, "we have this treasure (the light of the knowledge of the glory of God – not our own glory, but His) in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us." (2 Cor 4:7).
Don't miss that – "of God" and "not of us." Our own carnal, evil nature attempts to reduce God and Jesus to 2nd class and glorify ourselves and our own efforts and works. However the power is His for His glory, not our own and we are only His vessels.
If you recognize in your own life that you are an arsonist – you struggle with sin and have put Jesus as a companion or a Fireman who only saves you from hell or the death penalty (fire insurance or death insurance), then you have blasphemed God, His grace and sought your own ways instead of His.
Yield to His call now, humble yourself to Him, not me or anyone else, and repent of your sin putting your faith in Him to see you through. He promises He loves you and will never leave you or forsake you (Heb 13:5-6). The work He begins today in you, He will complete until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6).
Pray and ask God for forgiveness and the power to overcome sin, not for your glory, but for His. When you willingly give the throne of your heart to Him, He can and will do great things through you for His glory. He loves you and the crucifixion proves it!
There is joy in the presence of the angels of God when one sinner repents (Luke 15:10).
John: Angela's heart-felt repentance is not the product of living by a list of rules.
The relationship with Jesus (not the focus on the law or rules) brings out areas where we sin. It's the communication and love between Angela and Richard that convicts Angela of her sin. Not her study and focus on the rules. When I did that (focused on the law) and my failings, I got extremely discouraged, dispondent and felt like giving up. My salvation was always off again, on again. I doubted constantly.
When I got to know the One in Whom there is no doubt, then I could live by faith and my attitude changed tremendously, so did my close relationships. It works because the focus and trust is in the place it's supposed to be – Jesus!
Anonymous wrote: "John: Angela's heart-felt repentance is not the product of living by a list of rules."
Of course not. Quit misrepresenting what I'm saying. If she was living by the rules, she would not need repentance, now would she?
You cannot have a relationship without rules. Even a fight has to agree upon a time and place. If you don't believe me, then tell your spouse that your relationship is not based upon a list of rules, and so you've decided to have an affair with your neighbor. Let's see how long that relationship lasts.
"The relationship with Jesus (not the focus on the law or rules) brings out areas where we sin."
Utter nonsense. Sin is the transgression of the Law.
"It's the communication and love between Angela and Richard that convicts Angela of her sin."
And, it is His word that communicates to us, and His word contains the Law.
"When I did that (focused on the law) and my failings, I got extremely discouraged, dispondent and felt like giving up. My salvation was always off again, on again. I doubted constantly."
Then, I submit it was a lack of faith and trying to do it your own way rather than allowing God, the real God, the One Who created everything, transforming your life.
God is God. He gets to make the rules. He wrote them down for us. He is just, which means He is consistent. He didn't call out the descendants of a faithful wanderer just so He could make them a laughing stock by giving them a bunch of harsh rules that would be later be abandoned. No, He constantly told them to keep the Law so it would be well with them. He pleaded with them to "choose life".
So, which are you going to choose? Life or death?
From Another Anonymous @ John, you said if she was living by the rules she would not need repentance?…. One can only do that if they reach perfection while they are still human. I have never meet that person and I'm getting pretty old. Most of us sin with our thoughts before we even get out of bed each morning.
Anonymous wrote: "One can only do that if they reach perfection while they are still human. I have never meet that person and I'm getting pretty old."
I haven't met that person (in the flesh) either. It's actually the point. We all sin. We need a Savior.
No rules => no sin => no need of a Savior
It's a rather simple logic equation.