It started so elegantly but it ended up looking like the keystone cops taking over Christmas Eve. Gavin, the pastor was perplexed when he looked out among the people. They weren’t looking at him. They seemed to be looking past him. Most were focused on one, single candelabra that was placed just inches from the flowing sheer fabric that provided a backdrop for the Christmas Eve candlelight service.
The people who saw it, looked horrified. As Gavin spoke, his mind reeled. What did I say? What’s going on with these people? And then after about five minutes, it happened. The vents blew the fabric into the candelabra. The growing flame traveled up the fabric, and the running, shouting, and fire extinguishing commenced. The night was not silent and there was no heavenly peace.
It was just a minor fire but it made for a great story and a memorable Christmas Eve service that the church will never forget. Dozens noticed it, but each thought, I don’t want to be the weird guy who walks on stage while the pastor is speaking. The moment seemed too big to boldly walk up there and pull the candelabra away from the draped fabric. That was long before the fire retardant foam spewed from the extinguisher.
Reading Proverbs 24 reminded me of that story.
If you do nothing in a difficult time,
your strength is limited.
Rescue those being taken off to death,
and save those stumbling toward slaughter.
If you say, “But we didn’t know about this,”
won’t He who weighs hearts consider it?
Won’t He who protects your life know?
Won’t He repay a person according to his work?
No one’s life was in danger that night, but the scripture is eerily apropos. If you do nothing your strength is limited. Sometimes we each have to take the initiative even if it’s a little embarrassing to prevent something even more embarrassing or even dangerous. For most of us, our default is to keep quiet and try not to make any waves.
Edmund Burke nailed it when he said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke.
We can all tell stories of people who were lured into an addiction, a dangerous investment, a bad relationship, an abortion, or an infidelity. We see the warning signs. We even mention it to our other friends. But in the end, we regret that we didn’t say something to the one teetering on the edge of failure before it became a huge issue.
It’s always easier to do nothing in a difficult time, but it’s not what we were created for. God looks for people who will take the initiative, speak truth in hard places, say the last painful 2% that needs to be said, and cut off tragedy at the pass.
Somebody must boldly approach the candelabra, reposition it, before it turns into panic, craziness and fire extinguisher foam on the platform. As an added bonus to this cautionary tale, fire extinguisher foam on a hardwood platform is slippery. Quite slippery. You can imagine the other embarrassing thing that happened to Pastor Gavin that fateful Christmas Eve.