There is a large drum shaped container of charcoal and a sign that says “4 for £2.40”.
This large, drum-like container is made of thick wire. Like “chicken wire” fencing. This enables the contents in the container to be seen, from the top to the bottom.
The pieces of charcoal inside the container vary in size. The pieces at the top of the container are very small. Just under the top layer, the pieces are a bit bigger. Near the bottom the pieces are large. At the very bottom, the pieces of charcoal are huge.
Sometimes when God shows me something, I give it too much thought and over-complicate it. My first thought on the vision was that the charcoal was a rip off. It didn’t make sense to price it per piece. The pricing should be based on weight, not by piece. Why would anyone take 4 small pieces when they could take larger pieces and it would cost the same amount of money. So, I started to think about why it was priced in the way it was, which was completely missing the point. I didn’t understand the message and what God was trying to show me.
That evening I prayed asking for the interpretation, and as I asked, I was given the answer. Now that I think about it, it was blindingly obvious. I had over-complicated it.
It had nothing to do with the way it was priced. The price is the price. The point God was making was… would I be happy if I brought the pieces at the top of the pile, or the pieces at the bottom?
The pieces at the top were easy to access, but they were very small. We can take the pieces on the top, but we would get terrible value for money. However, if we are willing to get our hands a little bit dirty, then we could dig in underneath the top layer and get some of the bigger pieces. We probably still wouldn’t get good value.
However, if we are willing to put in a decent amount of effort, and dig down further, then we could get even bigger pieces. Getting four of these bigger pieces would almost be worth the £2.40! Some people may be satisfied with that, but to me those pieces were still not worth the £2.40.
In the shop, people wouldn’t notice us digging underneath the top layers and trying to get good value for money. We could get those pieces of charcoal without bringing any attention to ourselves.
But if we dig down still further in order to get the pieces near the bottom, then this would definitely be worth the effort. However, this would be hard work and people will start to notice as we would need to take all the pieces on the top layers out of the container and put them to the side in order to get these lower pieces out. The size of the pieces are large enough that this would be quite good value for the amount that was spent, which is worth the stares and whispers of those people in the shop around us.
Now the pieces at the bottom, if we got 4 of those, then we would have a bargain. These pieces are massive! We’d need to take them to the checkout 1 at a time as they are so big. They are so big that I’m sure that even the owner of the shop will notice us.
The Lord is telling me that I need to dig deep. The more effort I put in, the greater the value I will get. I didn’t understand why it was charcoal. Charcoal seems rather mundane. Again, this was obvious.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.
If John was a lamp, are we not also lamps? So, we should want to burn brightly for the Lord. So that is why it was charcoal. It is a bit like the parable of the 12 virgins. In that it was oil and not charcoal.
At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight the cry rang out: "Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!". Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out."
"No," they replied, "there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves."
But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. "Lord, Lord," they said, "open the door for us!". But he replied, "Truly I tell you, I don’t know you".
Larger pieces of charcoal will burn more brightly, burn with more intense heat, and burn for much longer than small pieces. The holy spirit is often mentioned as being associated with fire. In this context, it is clear that the more we are willing to do, the more fuel we will have for our lamps!
Why the price of £2.40? Nothing God does is without meaning. Although the price is currency, I can’t help but notice time in the price. The Lord must have revealed this to me. First, I see the number 24 in the price of £2.40. There are 24 hours in a day.
Why 4 pieces and not 3, 5 or 6? Again, I see time. 4 pieces for £2.40 equates to 60p each. There are 60 minutes in 1 hour. The price seems to symbolise time! God’s ways are truly amazing!
How much of our time do we spend on God?
As Christians, we can do the easy stuff and live our lives worshipping the Lord and going to church and maintaining our relationship with him. These are like the coals on the top. We don’t expend a great deal of effort in these activities. If we go for these coals at the top, then we can expect that we would not burn bright or long for the money (time) that we spent.
We can do more and burn more brightly, but if we work earnestly for the Lord, then the world will start to notice us. This is not just our family and friends, but our work colleagues and even strangers. We will be noticed by them. These are the people in the shop. How bright we would be if go for these pieces, unashamed of what those around us think!
Then there is the final layer at the bottom. The owner of the shop (God) will surely notice you if you go for these ones!