Fan the Flame

Fan the Flame
Fire is fascinating. My husband and I love to sit in our back yard around the fire pit in the evening and watch the flames. They are mesmerizing. Maybe deep in our DNA we recognize fire’s importance. It’s probably safe to say that without fire, our ancient ancestors would have perished.

If you’ve studied survival techniques or watched survival shows on television, you know that fire is one of the first requirements of surviving in the wild.

Starting a fire isn’t easy without matches. Even expert survivalists can struggle to start a fire. If conditions are wet or if there is a lack of tinder, it’s next to impossible.

No matter how it started, one thing is certain: without fuel every fire goes out. Fires must be tended. In a survival situation, once you get a fire going, you do everything you can to keep it going. That means it needs to be stoked every night before going to sleep. It might mean adding fuel during the night. It certainly means adding fuel every morning.

Don’t let a fire go out if you want to survive.

Without enough fuel, the fire gets low. If your fire is too low, it is ineffective. You can’t boil water. You can’t cook food. You can’t warm yourself.

The Bible is literal and historical. At the same time, there are many parallels that can be drawn from scripture: an additional meaning or application beyond the literal or historical account. There are many scriptures referring to fire; I think we can draw a parallel interpretation from many of them.

From the days of Moses until the death of Christ, the Israelite people lived under “the law” and were instructed to keep the fire burning in the temple.

Continuously Burning

“The burnt offering is to remain on the altar hearth throughout the night, till morning, and the fire must be kept burning on the altar. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.” [1]

Watch for Fire to Descend

David, King of Israel (reigned ca. 1010-ca. 970 B.C.) was a warrior, a poet, and a musician, as well as a King. He lived during a time when animal sacrifices were required for sin. But beyond the temple’s bloody sacrifices, he saw a heart application.

“Every morning
I lay out the pieces of my life
on your altar
and watch for fire to descend.” [2]

Fan into Flame

Hundreds of years later, another man, the Apostle Paul, told Timothy to:

“Fan into flame the gift of God.” [3]

The parallel here is that the life of Christ within us, the Holy Spirit, is like a fire.

If you are struggling to survive, it is time to tend the fire.

If you are feeling cold, it is time to tend the fire.

If you are hungry, it is time to tend the fire.

If you are thirsty, it is time to tend the fire.

Years ago, I was a counselor at Bible camp. I had six girls in my cabin. One night, back in the cabin after chapel, one of the girls told me that her heart had grown cold to God. She told me that she knew she needed to get her heart right with God, but she didn’t even feel anything anymore. Not a thing. Her heart was a stone.

I cared about these girls and when she told me this it broke my heart! It also shook me up. What could I say to her? What could I do to help her?

I didn’t have the answer, but I knew the one who did. I started to pray and asked the other girls in the cabin to start praying, too.

After a few minutes, God dropped words into my heart for this girl who had grown so cold.

“You need to call on God,” I told her. “The Bible says that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” [4]

I, and the other five girls in the room, sat on the floor around her and continued to pray. She sat there silently with her eyes closed.

I think about 20 minutes passed this way. All of a sudden, a raspy cry rose up from somewhere deep within her, and she cried out, “Jesus! I need You!” With those words, Jesus came, and changed her completely. She was no longer cold. Her heart was set ablaze.

Maybe the fire is burning low in your heart. To you I say what Paul said to Timothy: fan the flame.

Maybe the fire has completely gone out and your heart has become cold, or maybe you’ve never opened your heart to God. To you I say: it is time to call on GodIt is time to seek the truth. 

If you seek for the truth, you will find Him.

Do you have a story to share? Feel free to post it in the comments below.

Scripture References:
1. From Leviticus 6, New International Version
2. From  Psalm 5:1-3, the Message
3. From 2 Timothy 1:6, New International Version
4. Romans 10:13

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