Nothing Beats A Good Fire!
By Joel Bates
Nothing beats a good fire! I love to sit beside a campfire on a cool, early spring evening, listening to it crackle and hiss as I breathe in the waft of wood smoke. I have found myself lingering near its warmth until I absolutely have to move away to give my hot skin respite. I always sense a deep, mystifying satisfaction of being connected to something age old, relishing something man has enjoyed from creation, and knowing I, too, can create this marvel with three basic ingredients: fuel, oxygen, and ignition.
Over the years I’ve seen a lot of participants struggle to build a fire, even after I have taught fire building. In most cases, their strife resulted from omitting one or more of these elements. One group I led spent three days without fire. They had relied on quick meals that needed no cooking and became rather desperate as their options diminished. I had carefully demonstrated the craft, warning participants to spend ample time selecting the right fuel—dry wood that snaps—and gathering a lot of it. Then, I taught them match work and emphasized the need for patience and focus. Lastly, I pointed to that first flicker of flame and carefully blew a whisper of air across it to give just the right amount of oxygen to help it grow. The fire ignited, and the coals were soon mature enough to withstand a rainstorm, cook dinner, and keep our party warm. However, they could not seem to get a fire going. They learned their need for a fourth ingredient—initiative.
Fire is a gift from God, a powerful, inviting, and yet fearsome resource. God calls Himself a “consuming fire” (Deut. 4:24; Heb. 12:29). Like fire, God is both dreadful and inviting. In the Bible, we read of many people who experienced the phenomenon of hanging in the balance between something so dangerous as fire, yet being drawn to it until it consumed them. The prophet Jeremiah testified the Word of God was like a fire shut up in his bones. He had to speak it; he could not hold it in (Jer. 20:9). Elijah never died, but was taken up in a whirlwind riding in a chariot of fire. The apostles together in the upper room saw tongues of fire settling on their heads, marking the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts).
Clearly, fire provides a metaphor for God, His Word, His Spirit, and His people. As I sit by a fire and contemplate my relationship with the Lord, I readily recall Paul’s admonition to his son in Christ, Timothy, “…I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God…” (2 Tim.1:6). Furthermore, in 1 Thes. 5:19, Paul tells believers, “Do not put out the spirit’s fire.” These are terms I can understand as I study the fire before me, but my problem lies in knowing how difficult they are to live out. Some days my flame is weak; I’m little more than a smoldering coal for Christ. How do I breathe a whisper of air across that coal to ignite the fragile flame in my heart and keep it alive?
I believe the same components of building a campfire apply to us in a spiritual sense, too. What fuel are you feeding your fire for the Lord? I’m a big advocate for getting rid of the TV and minimizing my media intake, primarily because my mind is a container for the Spirit and my eyes the filter. I want the fuel that goes in to be good. What are you igniting your fire with? I believe prayer is the great igniter of revival, the beginning of provision, and the basis for relationship with God the Father. If you need to strike a match to your soul, hit your knees in prayer. What about the oxygen to fan the flame? Scripture tells us to give thanks, sing praise, and count the blessings. In short, we celebrate Jesus and live life in Him to the full. Finally, we must apply a bit of initiative, disciplining ourselves to persevere and trust God’s leading.
The campers eventually learned to build a good fire as they gathered the wood and focused on the match before getting down on hands and knees to blow air on the fire. These same principles apply to our spiritual flame. If we control our intake, celebrate Jesus, and pray without ceasing, our spiritual flames will burn brightly, and like I said, “Nothing beats a good fire!”