Monday, November 21, 2011

Fan the Flame

Spirit & Truth # 250
“Fan the Flame”

By Greg Smith
This is not a picture of me, but you get the idea.

            Fall is in the air! The leaves have already changed and made a crackly carpet on my once-green lawn.  Today, I got out the typical tools of fall, to take care of those leaves  As a pastor, I can’t burn leaves just any evening.  It’s illegal to burn before 4pm, and I have meetings many evenings.  Often the weather is uncooperative, and either the leaves are too wet, or the wind is too high.  So the evening has to be just right—like tonight.  It’s dry and still, and my calendar’s clear.  So I got my my rakes, matches, and garden hose.  You see, I’m a burner, not a bagger.
            My younger son knows my technique well, so he asked me curiously, “What’s the leaf blower for?”  You see, I’m a lawnmower man.  He helped me rake out the bushes, and watched as I sucked up the leaves with my riding mower, then put them in a pile to burn them (very carefully).  So since I’m a lawnmower man, he wanted to know what I was going to do with the leaf blower. 
             “What do you need to build a fire?” I asked him. 
If you’re a regular reader then you remember that this same nine-year-old and I just went camping a few weeks ago, and he built and lit his first campfire.  So he knew the answer by heart:  “Fuel, heat, and oxygen,” he said.
“That’s right,” I told him.  “The dry leaves are the fuel, the matches provide the heat, but on a still night like this, we might have to help the wind along.”[i]
You should have seen his delight as throughout the evening I pointed my leaf blower at the places where leaf embers had almost died.  “Woah!” he often exclaimed, as the air hit the leaves and embers ignited in a shower of orange.  Flames leapt up and a guttering fire was once more renewed.
This is what Paul had in mind when he said to young Timothy, “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands (1 Timothy 1:6).”  Sometimes Christians start out well, but something hinders the fire in our hearts.  Life can leave us breathless, or we can separate ourselves from the warmth of other believers, or we might let the devil dampen our spirits.  A fire in your heart can be a difficult thing to maintain.  It doesn’t just tend itself.  You have to watch it, nurture it, help it along.  That’s why Paul told the Thessalonians, “Do not quench the Spirit.”  Like a fire, your spirit needs the warmth of others believers, the fuel of God’s word, and the breath of the Holy Spirit to burn inside of you.  Then you’ll be able to sing from your heart the hymn of B.B. McKinney, Breathe on Me:

Holy Spirit, breathe on me,
my stubborn will subdue;
teach me in words of living flame
what Christ would have me do.

Holy Spirit, breathe on me,
fill me with pow'r divine;
kindle a flame of love and zeal
within this heart of mine.

[i] I do not recommend that my readers attempt this burning method at home.  This is for professional pyromaniacs only.

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