I learned how to build a fire before I could read—not with lighter fluid or paper or starter logs either! I learned that it’s more about process than explosion.
We usually want our lives to yield instant amazing results. We want to make a difference. This is good, because we can. The secret is in building your spiritual fire. Here are three steps in the process to apply:
- Gather your kindling. Fires start small. In the woods, you need to find small, dry twigs to start your fire. The really tiny dry stuff called tinder is most important for getting started. The basis for your spiritual fire might seem small and hidden too. You might have to look for it underneath your responsibilities and fears and other distractions, but it’s there: the basic instinct to know God and to be known. Curiosity is good enough too. Gather it up and find some others who have it too, like in a cell or Sunday meeting. It’s ready for flame when it takes shape (like a teepee or log cabin formation) with other kindling.
- Feed your fire incrementally. If you put a big log on your little flame, the air can’t get to it. Oxygen is necessary for fire and we need to breathe like that too. We need to have our questions and bounce them off of one another. We need space to ponder ideas, try them out and see what happens. This is how we learn to hear God’s voice, and are led by the Spirit. Instead of trying to tackle the whole Bible, start reading the Daily Prayer or a book your cell leader recommends because they know you. Little by little, you’ll put thicker logs on your fire. But don’t snuff it out with giant expectations.
- Tend your mature fire. When you start to notice some hot coals glowing at the base of your fire, you’ve got a reliable source of heat and light on your hands. But even hot coals will eventually go out if they are not fed. The way to feed your hot coals is by lighting someone else’s spiritual log. This can look a lot of different ways depending on how God is forming you, but serving others and sharing the light and heat that we’ve got is what fans our own flame. We are fed by feeding.
God bless you in your process—may we grow into a holy flame that warms up our corner of the world all winter long, and beyond.
Rise up, Lord Jesus, by thy life burning
Show to us beauty, wisdom and truth.
Send away death, send away sorrow,
With resurrection, bringing new life.
“You might have to look for it underneath your responsibilities and fears and other distractions, but it’s there: the basic instinct to know God and to be known.” A good word.