A Spark in the Ashes
I am not much of a boy scout, but I love the outdoors. When I try to start a fire, I usually end up on my knees with my face in the fire pit, coaxing, blowing and pleading with the fire to start. If I could apply the same desperation and attention to stirring up the fire of God in my soul as I do when lighting a fire, I’m sure I would eventually get some good results, spiritually that is.
Thomas Kempis in his writings, makes reference to a “spark hidden in the ashes” of his soul. In his prayer for more grace, he speaks of this little strength within our weak human nature which
“has the power of judging good and evil, of seeing the difference between true and false, though it is not able to fulfill all that it approves and does not enjoy the full light of truth or soundness of affection.” (Imitation of Christ).
Tending to this spark within and fanning it into flame is the way we rise up out of the ashes. The threat of descending into a cold world of hatred and despair must urge us on to love and good works.
Keep It Real
Around Christmas on a local cable you can watch the virtual burning log channel 24 hours a day. You’ll even see this guy come along once in a while and add a new log. However, just like a virtual fireplace cannot warm the body so all the virtual comforts that this world parades before us will not warm the soul.
Quenching the Spirit can happen easily, when we turn away our hearts to external desires. Love of the world with its pleasures and honours, is a distraction that can drown our desire for God. On the other hand, the spiritual practices or adoration, meditation on the goodness of God and letting his word dwell richly in us, will stoke the fires of heavenly desire. However, don’t throw the big logs in too soon.
We learn about the goodness of God not by contemplating the goodness of God but by watching a butterfly. Richard Foster
Richard Foster counsels experiencing the joys of a water brook and feeling the water on your face without trying to find God in the water. (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home) In connecting with the tiny pleasures of life, we will gradually and naturally begin to rediscover adoration.
Another common practice for rekindling a holy fire, is spiritual friendship. In the same way that logs burn better together, so a spiritual companion adds fuel to the fire of God’s love. The fire within us will warm others as well as ourselves. Two disciples on the road to Emmaus experienced this. They said to each other,
“Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32
Fan Into Flame
The Apostle Paul reminded his protégé Timothy to “to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” This flame is the true source of the spiritual power, love and soundness of mind that we need, Paul says. (2 Tim. 1:6). The flame though small at first, will grow as we continue to make space for it.