We talk about being on fire for God; burning bright in a dark world; asking the Holy Spirit to ignite the fire again. Have you ever spent time watching a fire? Have you watched how different types of materials burn? I spent a good chunk of time one day burning old materials and papers, and the Lord showed me some applications to our spiritual lives.
Paper Generally Burns Easily
Most of us think that paper burns very easily – and it can, but it doesn’t always. When it does burn, the heat produced is minimal and doesn’t last long.
Crumple up some paper, lay it loosely in the fire pit, and light it. The paper is great for starting small kindling pieces ablaze. Lay a piece of paper on top of a burning log, it will curl until the edges catch on fire, and then, it burns quickly.
Try putting a stack of paper on that burning log and see what happens. It can put out the fire beneath it! The edges, if they are loose enough may eventually burn, but the middle of the stack will remain intact. Are you so tightly bound up in the affairs of this life that God is not able to get between your pages for you to burn? Do you snuff out the flames of others around you with your attitudes and dogmas? Sometimes we need to loosen up and let the Holy Spirit get between our pages.
Paper tends to not burn completely so that the wind can carry part of it away. This can be dangerous in the mountains as it could start a forest fire. Generally though, when the wind picks up the paper, it just floats away and doesn’t do anything. How about you? Do you catch fire and then get carried away by other things, either accomplishing nothing, or even worse, causing danger for others?
Different types of wood produce different results in the fire
Old dry pallet boards burn easily and very hot. This is also the case for dry scrub oak branches. Pine needles crackle and pop as they dry out and then burn quickly. Pine sticks also burn relatively easily and quickly. Wood that has been seasoned is better than freshly cut green wood. The hard woods (such as oak) burn hotter and longer than the soft woods (such as pine). Hard woods also make for better coals. (Roasted marshmallows, anyone?).
In your spiritual life, are you more like a soft pine stick or dry hard oak? Have you been through times of seasoning, tested through the elements and experience? Are you like the pine needles, making a bunch of noise and a few small flames that don’t last long?
You may feel like you are old and worn out like an old broken pallet, not usable by God. God is the Master at using what seems to be unusable for His glory. Your experiences in life of carrying others, of being stepped on and used, may be just what the Master needs in His fire.
If you have a deep desire for the Lord to burn in and through you, He may take you through periods of difficulty. The trials of life can condition us for a greater Kingdom impact. Trials produce endurance (James 1:3).
With age,hopefully, we gain a perspective and deeper understanding of God and His ways. The longer we journey with the Lord, the hotter and longer we are able to burn brightly and the greater impact we can have in the world. However, we can choose to age without maturing as believers. This could leave us in the next category.
Some stuff doesn’t burn well
For example, old siding and OSB scraps. Especially the ones that have been sitting and soaking up water on the ground for years. You have to be careful to place them in such a way that they will not smother the fire. For the wet ones, they need to dry out before catching fire.
Some of these materials also contain glues and other toxic ingredients. When put on the fire, the smoke that they emit can be dangerous to the people who are attempting to benefit from the flames.
I’ve been hanging around Christians for a lot of years. Unfortunately, some of them have toxic ideas and attitudes. Without the work of the Holy Spirit doing some renewal and cleaning up in their lives, they can be hazardous to those around them. In some cases, we need a refining fire to purify us before we are able to be a light and warmth to the world.
Are you ready to burn hot and bright?
So what does any of this have to do with us? Here are a few questions to apply fire to our spiritual lives:
- What kind of material are you?
- Are you a quick flash and then you’re out?
- Are you a soft wood that burns easily but doesn’t produce as much heat and doesn’t burn as long?
- Are you a hard wood that is aged and burns hot and long?
- Are you scraps that don’t burn well at all?
- Are you toxic to the atmosphere?
- What does God need to do in you before you are ready to burn?
- Are you all wet and need a time of drying out before you can burn?
- Do you need to go through some hard times of purification and refining so that you can burn hotter and longer?
- Do you need to be placed in the fire?
Regardless of where you are in your spiritual journey, you can have an impact for the Kingdom of God. If you are willing to allow the Holy Spirit to set you ablaze, others can be warmed and benefit from your life.
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