When I was young, my father worked a short while in the coal mines of West Virginia. At the time, work was scarce where we lived, so we moved there so he could earn a living for his family. My dad was a very hard worker, and mining is a brutal way of earning a living. For this sacrifice, I am very thankful. The effects of working in the mines, stretch on for many years. Those who serve others in this way need to be honored, and for you I am thankful.

I remember being around three years of age, and he coming in from the mines. He was so blackened that he was unrecognizable. The only thing you could see was the rim of white around his eyes. As a child, it was scary seeing this dark figure come in the door. After his shower, he would look like my father again, washed clean from the residue of the coal dirt.

As I ponder this memory, it makes me think “how often are our hearts like a coal mine?” Hardened, black, and have to have an expert chisel and use explosives to break it apart? When I see the picture below, I am reminded of a heart and life that has been marred by the effects of bitterness and unforgiveness.

We need Someone Who can remove the coal of stoneyness from our hearts and give us a soft pliable heart of tenderness. We need what was just a blackened rock bed to become glowing embers that warm the lives of others and release a welcoming and delicious aroma to Heaven. We need the only One Who can take the ill effects of pain and hurt that have fallen into place and become cemented sediment on the walls of our hearts, and bring forth the beauty hidden there.

Jesus, like a coal miner, became blackened by sin for us. He takes our hardened hearts and makes them white as snow by the shower of His shed blood. He in turn, asks that we walk in His footsteps. He instructs us to be used to mine the hearts of others–to walk in forgiveness. He wants our lives to be an example of a dark mine of hidden sin and hurt to one that warms the lives of others.

When we follow our Heavenly Miner’s example, and forgive and love our enemies, we heap coals of fire on their heads. This is an ancient idiom for overcoming evil with good–not the other way around. The goal, of course, is repentance and reconciliation, however, this is not always the outcome. Regardless, we have a choice to extend grace, mercy and love that we have freely received and gain the reward that only Father God can give. Proverbs 25:21-22 and Romans 12:20 instruct us to love our enemies, do good to them by giving them food to eat if they are hungry and something warm if they are cold. Heaping coals of fire, is giving our enemies what it takes to survive–loving them in spite of their behavior toward us. Jesus instructs us even further in Matthew 5:38-48. He tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us and spitefully use us. Ours is not to not seek revenge, but to leave that to God–vengeance is His and He will repay (Deuteronomy 32:25 and Hebrews 10:30). Love covers a multitude of sins, and when we walk in love we look like Jesus. Walking in love is not condoning sin. It is not sweeping wrong under the carpet, in fact, we are to go to the one who has wronged us and try to make things right–to live in peace with everyone as much as it depends upon us. Forgiveness is trusting in a perfect Heavenly Father to bring about the best solution. It is about looking like Jesus and making earth a little more like Heaven–it is about glorifying the King of kings and Lord of lords instead of exalting evil.

Each day, and multiple times a day, we have opportunity to either add another layer of carbon sediment to the walls of our hearts, or to mine that rock and allow it to be placed on the brazier pan and for holy fire to ignite it. We have a choice to pour the hot coals of righteous love and mercy to the least deserving. We have a choice to go the extra mile, to clothe the enemy who is naked and feel the one who is hungry. The one who is the most naked and hungry is the one with the greatest need.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

Praying today, that our hearts are not like the coal mine cave, but like a newborn’s–soft, pink and tender. Asking Holy Spirit to burn away all that would defile our hearts and make us holy embers in His hands–igniting passion and compassion within us for those around us. Using the coals of our lives to bring life-sustaining warmth to the most undeserving in our midst, and to fill us with the Love of God. May our hearts and lives be the brazier pan of Heaven!

Love & Blessings,

Grace & Shalom