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Christian Living Truth

A Surprise in the Fireplace

It had been a long weekend at the church where I served as an associate pastor. I’d spent most of the day, and all Saturday night, with a family whose father was in intensive care at a local hospital. Sunday was, well, Sunday—the busiest day of the week for me.

So on Monday (my day off), I slept in for some much needed rest. But even with the extra sleep I still felt frazzled; folks in the ministry call this “compassion fatigue.” Feeling emotionally depleted from the long weekend of pastoral ministry, I decided to take a walk at a beautiful Christian conference center nearby.

But as I made my way around a scenic tree-lined trail, wouldn’t you know, it started to rain! I quickly went from a stroll to a sprint, ducking into a nearby multi-purpose building—that just happened to be unlocked. It was a gymnasium with a kitchen and reception area: a “cafegymatorium.”😀

Wanting to stay dry, I continued to walk laps around the basketball court, using a massive stone fireplace as a waypoint. But then I heard something: a fluttering sound coming from behind the darkened glass doors covering the hearth. A bird had somehow fallen down the chimney and was unable to escape.

I cautiously opened the doors. Stepping back quickly, I felt the breeze as he flew past me—into the empty gym. It was a male cardinal, flashing brilliant red! He circled near the ceiling, trying to figure out where he was.

Tip-toeing over to a side entrance, I opened the door. The rain had stopped and the sun shone brightly—bathing a corner of the building in light. But mister curious cardinal wouldn’t take the exit; he continued his holding pattern, looping the gym over and over. So I stepped away from the door and froze, still as a statue. Finally, my “brother from another mother” flew out the door to freedom.


I call my hapless bird friend “brother” because I’ve been where he was: trapped and unable to free myself alone. Leaving full time ministry, a failed marriage, both were impenetrable doors blocking my escape. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks from your own life.

The point is, Jesus Christ is the only person who can truly set us free. And He opens the doors with one word:

So Jesus said to those who believed in Him, “If you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31 (GNT) emphasis mine

Kind reader, may I remind you that all the truth you’ll ever need is found in Christ Himself? At the cusp of His own crucifixion He comforted His dearest friends with these words, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”— John 14:1 (NIV) And when Doubting Thomas questioned this, Jesus answered with a one sentence summary:

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6 (NIV)

It’s 2022 and Jesus is STILL the way; we don’t need another road map. God’s best to you always. Thank you for reading. 🙏❤️