How hard can it be to start a fire?
This was my thought the other night as I planned to enjoy a quiet fire in our backyard pit. The garden hose was close by in the event it became too excited.
My pile of dead lilac branches and my few crumpled pieces of paper seemed full of promise as I took the lighter to them. The paper went out as quickly as quickly as my confidence without a single branch catching the flames. Apparently, sparks come easy, but starting and sustaining an actual fire is an entirely different story.
Determined, I marched back inside and rummaged around until I found plenty more paper and several chunks of cardboard. Back outside, I placed them underneath the twigs and branches providing ample opportunity to ignite.
This time, the spark was sustained, and I enjoyed being captivated by what fires do: consume.
As I sat, my thoughts wandered to spiritual fire. Experiences with God seem to spark fires of faith, but after the weekend retreat, the end of the blog post, the conclusion of the conference, the last chapter of the Bible study, or the closing song of the worship service, why are they not easily sustained?
I asked God, how — how is a spiritual fire sustained?
As I watched the fire consume dead branch after dead branch, I sensed He was saying:
As you keep giving Me something to consume.
"And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him." (Romans 12:1, NLT)
And here's where the simple is not easy: Are we willing to continually give God — the all-consuming fire, more of ourselves?
Are you? More of your reactions? Habits? Time? Ways? Ambitions? Fears? Weaknesses? Thoughts? Income? Attitudes? Ways of handling conflict? Fails? Deriving your worth from worldly things? Self-sufficiency? The good things you've given God-like weight to?
The Holy Spirit burns brighter in our lives as we offer Him more of ourselves to consume.
The longer we clench our fists, the more wearier we become from the consequences. Instead, we can loosen our grip and trust that God wants to consume whatever is covering up your Christ-likeness.
The result? A flame that burns bright and gives heat and light to others.
"Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit." (John 15:2, HCSB)
Dead branches that cannot and will not bear fruit make fantastic fuel.
"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. " (Romans 12:2, NLT)
Talk to God: What do you want me to offer you? I want to believe that less of me is worth more of You.