I’m sure most if not all of you have had some experience building and lighting a fire in your lifetime. We have the privilege of having a coal range to heat the kitchen, cook meals on, and heat our water, and since we try to use as little electricity as possible we have to run the range frequently to make sure we have enough hot water to get through the day’s needs. We also have a log burner in the living room, and with the two combined we often have the chance to get a lot of experience in lighting fires!
|“Cat and fire” by Michel Filion is licensed under CC BY 2.0|
Then you set the newspaper alight, and blow gently on it so that the fire will burn hotter. Sometimes, it doesn’t catch the pinecones and thin pieces of wood right away, so you have to put more newspaper and cardboard in. The fire might almost die, but with coaxing, patience, and gentle (and sometimes harsh!) blowing, and maybe a little more newspaper in there, the fire usually takes off and the room starts to warm up.
The Christian life is a lot like that, too. When we first become Christians, we are excited about following Jesus. We burn hot for a little while…and then somehow our fervour slowly seems to die. We start to wonder whether anything really did happen back there or not, and slowly our little light goes out. Then God adds a bit of newspaper, and starts blowing again. Sometimes, He has to blow pretty harshly to get our attention. After a bit, we get the message, and slowly start to warm up and get excited again. After a while, the fire is burning well, but you do have to replenish the amount of wood from time to time, or it will go out.
Proverbs 26:20 says, “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out….” God has given us plenty of wood to use—the Bible—to keep our fires burning brightly. But it’s our choice whether or not we use that wood to feed and grow on. Sometimes, it requires some heavy wading to find a jewel of encouragement for the day—especially when you feel you don’t have much time to do it—but like wood that is still slightly damp when thrown in the fire it will catch and burn eventually.
Our responsibility to actively seek God’s will and try to learn from Him. Just as we blow on the newspaper to start a fire, we also have to blow on the little flame that He has given us with faith in His promises, praise of His goodness, and prayers for His guidance. Just like a fire needs fuel, oxygen, and heat to burn, we need to use the Bible as our fuel, prayer as our daily communication with Him, and faith and praise as the heat by which people can tell that we are real followers of Jesus. We don’t want to be one of those fake fires that look like they’re burning but they really aren’t—we want outsiders to see that this faith we possess is real.
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7)