Originally published Thursday, 12 December 2013.
With sticks outstretched, we sit around our campfire roasting marshmallows. An old 1960′s green canvas wall tent stands erect nearby. A relic––from my childhood and my dad’s––that’s now become a part of my children’s lives. It’s late, the sun has finally set after another long summer day, yet we cannot allow the children to go to bed before sitting around the campfire, and they certainly don’t object.
S’mores supplies stand ready on a nearby table. Two grahams topped with a piece of chocolate wait for the golden, or sometimes charred, mallow to make one of camping’s greatest delicacies. Excitement fills the air, as the children make, and anticipate enjoying, their treat.
My husband, Travis, sits close to the round rock pit, stick in hand, poking the fire within. He watches closely, tending to the fire, as we talk and share stories. Laughter echoes through the stillness of the woods. In the moments between chatter and laughter, the crackling of the fire serenades each of us, and we feel peace.
After ridiculous amounts of marshmallows and s’mores, the children go off to bed, bellies full and hearts merry. They drift off to dreamland while the adults continue to enjoy both fire and fellowship. Travis continues to man the fire, repositioning burning timber and laying on new, and as he does, I can’t help but relate his activity to our relationship with God.
Faith––and a passionate faith at that––is our aim. We’ve all heard others speak of being on fire for God, and some of us have been blessed with this fire in our bellies at one point or another along the way. But if you’ve walked with Jesus for any length of time, you know as well as I do that the fire can easily be snuffed out, leaving us lukewarm at best or apathetic to the things of God at it’s worst.
At our weekly Bible study group, we begin talking about this very topic. “How do you get on fire for God?” The question is asked. Initially, no one responds and the question simply hangs in the air. It’s a big question. One that requires thought. Sarah and T, two of our closest friends, tell us about times they’ve been most on fire for God, and we all listen intently. Then, I think of our campfire this summer.
Travis sitting close to the fire.
He uses his stick to stoke the fire, increasing oxygen.
He keeps the hottest embers in the center, placing new logs strategically to add fuel.
And all the while, he assesses the fire closely, continually.
Truly, I believe this example holds the key to being on fire for God.
BUILDING YOUR FIRE
Now, to be clear, I don’t believe we can will ourselves into a place of passion. In John 15:5, Jesus tells us, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” Let us make no mistake, Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. It is He who imparts faith to us. And it is He who will grow our faith. But just as Travis tended to that campfire, we too have been given the grace needed to tend to the fire within our soul.
A fire left untended is a fire that is sure to go out. But a fire well attended provides much heat. (That felt a bit like a Proverb, didn’t it?!?)
For a fire to burn hottest, the heat is to remain at its center. And what is our source of heat but Jesus. Jesus is to remain at our center. When He does, we burn hottest. Our passion is ignited both for the love of God and the love of others. But how do we get there?
Now, I could get into the idiosyncrasies of fire building––I could tell you that the materials you use matter; that some materials burn well while others do not––but this is not a lesson on campfire building as much as it is a call to allow our hearts to burn for the Lord. Still, it is true. Some things we do will more effectively increase our passion.
Church reformer, Martin Luther once said, “Remember your baptism.” In other words, remember where Jesus found you. Assess how far you’ve come. See the grace poured out upon you and allow it to stoke your fire. Allow it to bring you to a place of true praise and worship.
We are a people plagued by forgetfulness. Jesus comes to us, saves us, redeems us, and walks with us, and then just like the Israelites throughout Biblical history, we forget. We become complacent and ungrateful. But if we can only remember. The book of Deuteronomy is a call for God’s people to remember. “Remember the Lord your God…” (8:18). “Remember what the Lord your God did…”(7:18). “Remember that you were a slave…” (16:12). Remember. Remember. Remember.
Stoke your fire by way of remembrance. Take some time, get alone with God, and reminisce the days of old. Look at what He’s done and worship Him in all His splendor.
Now I have to admit, I love the campfire parallel. I can certainly go on and on with it, looking even more deeply into the truths to be found, but I think you get my point. Still, there’s one problem with this analogy that I see. You see, campfire must be contained. They need to stay within the confines of a pit in order to prevent spreading the fire to surrounding land. The way I see it, however, is that while the fire within our heart need to be stoked like a campfire, it is to spread more like a wildfire. We needn’t contain the fire within, we simply need to steer our fire in the proper direction. And with Christ as our center––the seat of all of our passion––our fire is sure to not only increase within ourselves but to spread to those around us.
Let us intentionally pursue passionate faith by way of remembering who is at our center.