Minding the Fire
I didn’t actually enter the room I’m staying in here in Montana until late Sunday night because the students I’m teaching had a performance at a church in Great Falls that evening and I chose to stay and watch them, and then go to Dairy Queen after it was over for something to eat (are you kidding me? The last time I went to Dairy Queen for snacks after an event was when I played Babe Ruth Baseball, shortly before Nixon was re-elected.) Anyway, it was about 10 degrees up here in the Rockies that night, clear and deeply cold, and my room hadn’t been heated all weekend. Sadly, when I turned the heat on nothing happened. I couldn’t find the breaker box, so was preparing for a 30 degree sleep when I noticed an old Ben Franklin wood stove in the corner of the living room.
I fired it up and soon it was moaning and crackling, and churning out heat. Within twenty minutes I was able to take my coat and ski hat off and then fell asleep. But I drifted off with the fear that the fire might go out and I would wake up dead – killed off by hypothermia and a hidden breaker box. I woke at 2:30 AM to a chilled room and a silent stove. I’d used all the kindling to light the first fire, so was dependent now on scraps of newspaper, selective blowing, and prayer to ignite the warm logs and remaining embers into a real fire. It appeared hopeless after several tries, and so I put my hat and jacket back on and crawled under the blanket. While I shivered and wondered what my core temperature would be if I woke in the morning, the stove began to crackle, then moan, then spit out heat. I stuffed it full of wood, and didn’t wake until it was 7:15 and 73 degrees.
Minding the fire is important work in these parts (at least until the breaker box was found). It requires vigilance. And of course, the fire of Holy Spirit requires no less of a vigilance, as we’re admonished in Ephesians to ‘be being kept full’ of the Holy Spirit. It happens by making space for relationship with Christ, happens by pouring out our heart in confession and praise, happens by turning control over to God and yielding to His ways when He speaks to us (which implies, of course, that we’re taking the time to listen). The fire can be roaring today, but only by vigilance is it kept alive. The scriptures speak of hearts growing cold, of love going cold. The solution isn’t a warmer cloak of distraction; but rather becoming vigilant about keeping the fire going.