I have a meat guy.
During the early days of the stay-at-home order when grocery store beef was limited, my friend told me about getting her beef from a local butcher. I decided to try it and picked up a few pounds of ground beef, four chicken breasts, and two gigantic sirloins. I asked the guy in charge if he had any good tips on grilling steak, as I have never had any good luck with it.
Without saying anything, he walked over to a desk and got out a pad of paper and a pen and started drawing a grid to represent the grill. He told me to turn the heat up on high and let it get super hot, then put the steaks on the grill letting them get beautiful sear marks for 90 seconds, then turn the steaks 180 degrees and leave them for another 90 seconds, then flip them and grill for 90 seconds, turn 180 degrees and grill for 90 seconds, then turn the heat down to medium and leave it for 4 ½ minutes. Tada – Perfect steak. I tried it exactly his way, using my phone timer and complete focus. It turned out fantastic! So I went back to my meat guy and bought a few more steaks. My confidence was pretty high.
I went outside to get these steaks going. The first two rotations went well, and I was feeling strong. Then I noticed flames peeping up higher and higher. This would have scared me in the past, but felt like a professional at this point. I wasn’t worried. I thought Shawn would be coming out soon and he could confirm that it was normal. So when I heard him come through the dining room, in a voice as casual as if I was asking if he had seen anything good on TV lately, I said, “Is this too much fire?” He rounded the corner at that time – “YES!” – and ran over to the water hose to rescue our home.
After I saw his reaction, I did notice that the flame was shooting up against the brick of our house. Shawn was rapidly screwing the hose to the spigot, because it was February and we hadn’t had to do that yet. All the while, the flames were inching closer to the eaves of our house. He got the water going and got the flames under control, then handed the hose over to me to continue drenching my ribeyes while he ran up to the attic to see if anything had caught fire inside.
Thankfully, it had not. But there definitely was damage. The eaves ended up needing to be replaced and there is a blackened reminder of the incident covering the brick wall.
The thing that surprised both of us is how unaware I was of this scary situation. I have screamed over many lesser things, but this one I did not see coming. I thought everything was fine.
It bears a striking resemblance to a time I thought I was fine before. While there weren’t literal flames, there were definitely indicators that I was crossing boundaries that weren’t safe. There were lines that I scooched closer and closer to until I was too far in. I didn’t see it coming.
Hindsight is 20/20, and I am well aware now of things that should have been indicators for me to make changes and go a different direction. I wish I would have seen it more clearly then. The thing is though, right in the middle of sin it is easy to make excuses that even you believe.
If you are in the middle of anything that you feel in your heart might be a bad idea, and your first instinct is to look for a reason why it is really okay, can I offer a couple of suggestions? First, pray about it. The kind of prayer where you also spend some time listening for an answer. Secondly, talk to someone you trust and who loves God. It just might give you a new perspective and save you any damage you might be heading toward.
Father, thank You for the Holy Spirit. Help me to learn His voice, to listen well, and to follow completely.
Psalm 19:14 ESV
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.