The title of this article comes from the words of Stephen A. Douglas, an Illinois Senator who lived during the days of Abraham Lincoln. He was instrumental in promoting slavery in the northern and western expansion states, and by so doing, elicited the ire and vitriol of many; so many in fact, that he claimed, “I could…travel from Boston to Chicago by the light of my own effigies,” implying, no doubt, that they did more than depict his image in doll form, but that they also lit those images on fire.
Well our God, who is a consuming fire, is about to light up the entire earth with His glory and its consequential everlasting burnings. Can any man who promotes himself above others, for reasons small or large, for skin color differences or even character content variances, endure it? How much hate does it take to light up the night air and direct a soul between cities, betwixt a rock and a hard place?
Where can we go by the light of our own fire? And where can we go by the light of a characterized version of our self inflamed by hate and set ablaze by universal contempt? “Look, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with firebrands; walk in the light of your fire and in the firebrands you have lit! This is what you’ll get from My hand: you will lie down in a place of torment” (Isaiah 50:11 HCSB). All our hard speeches and curses are being openly displayed in stark contrast to the thickening cloud of darkness of heart gathering on the near horizon. How can we escape the damnation of hell?
What strange fire is that which burns out of control and is fueled by the natural oxygen of the earthly and human nature atmosphere? Too many are exhausting themselves and consuming the extent of their near-nothing substance just to be a notch or two above other near-nothing substances. And for what? Looking again at Douglas, and comparing him to Lincoln, what do we learn?
Douglas, small in stature, big on words, and on the wrong side of history; Lincoln, tall in stature, small on words, and on the right side of history. They burned paper replicas of Douglas and waved them in the night air before a flash-in-the-pan-like ghostly image in a passing train that moved only a small span across a little moment in time as a blur, whereas they chiseled out a marble monument of Lincoln and made him an eternal flame on the front burner of our history that still glows and warms us today. God honors those who honor Him, and Lincoln, unlike Douglas, traveled by the light of “a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel.” What fire is in your belly? And what light gets you through the night?