I clearly remember the impact of pouring kerosene onto a smouldering fire: how quickly it leapt back to life! It didn’t matter what else was on the pyre, it was quickly consumed in the heat generated by the sudden combustion. As a young teenager, the speed of transformation, and the power unleashed was exhilarating. Talk about a quick way to fix a problem!
Well, actually, it only fixed a small part of the problem – and made another one worse! Such a burst of fire only served to consume the small elements of the fire. Larger fuel, such as logs, were only singed, and no closer to being reduced to ashes. And a young teenager’s fascination with fire was unhealthily stoked.
As we have been reflecting on reigniting our spiritual passion over recent weeks, kerosene came to mind afresh. It seems that many christians seek that burst of energy and flame which is akin to pouring some form of accelerant on their faith. As a teenager it could have been something like a youth rally, a christian concert, or a camp. As christians age, they begin to recognise the smouldering dissatisfaction of unfulfilled promise. The kerosene of faith loses the fascination, though the yearning for its feelings of satisfaction remain.
When the fire begins to dim on our passion, when the flame of faith begins to resemble a smouldering wick, we wonder whether such fire can ever return. The temptation for the quick fix, the large McSpiritual meal which peps one up, remains. But its aftermath leaves that sense of emptiness.
A potent fire is built slowly: paper and kindling providing the flame and energy which gradually begins to warm the heavier fuels, whose heat then not only becomes more intense, but also more lasting, giving warmth and energy to those around. The fuel is consumed more evenly and effectively, and its impact felt more deeply.
In restoring our spiritual passion, we need to begin at the beginning, stoking the fire with the basic fuels of faith: prayer, bible reading, meaningful fellowship, service. And in order to sustain and deepen the flame, we must not allow ourselves to remain there. We are invited to move from the milk of faith to the meat (shifting the metaphor somewhat!)
The resources for a deeper relationship with God through Jesus Christ are ever there for us. Our ‘first love’ need not be a kindly memory, but a growing reality.
April 8, 2001
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