Recently my son and I built a fire down by our gorgeous creek. It was literally a picturesque morning. We could see the water, the sun was shining brightly, and of course there was my little man by my side. We shared some time down by the creek but then had to leave the beautiful place for chores. I promised we could return when we finished. When we returned there was no sign of a fire only ashes. Mason was very disappointed. He wanted to restart the fire using a lighter but I told him I had a better idea. We got a stick and gently began to stir the ashes. Sure enough we saw some embers start to glow. We waited patiently for the embers to gain there strength. I instructed Mason to place a couple leaves on the embers. The trick was not to overwhelm the tiny sparks. He followed instructions carefully but only smoke began to roll from the fire pit. I encouraged him to be patient. After what seemed like forever we saw a tiny flame emerging from a leaf. Mason in his excitement wanted to dump an armload of leaves onto it. This would only overload the tiny flame causing it to be smothered. Instead we added a few more leaves, waited, added leaves, waited and continued this process for several minutes. All of a sudden we had a fire. The ashes turned into embers, which turned to flames, which turned into a roaring fire. The process had been a success and Mason was ecstatic! The ashes simply needed to be stirred and cared for gently.
Sometimes we lay before the Lord with nothing but our ashes. At times we loose our fire, our zeal for Him. Maybe we have experienced loss, heartache, apathy, betrayal, a broken marriage, or some other type of sadness. As we move through life we are unable to see the fire that once burned brightly in our soul. We become so overwhelmed in task, obeying rules, obligations, duty, it impedes our time with our Savior. Many times life happens and distractions come. Sometimes we do not even see it but slowly somewhere over time we have just started going through the emotions. Our deeds are good but our hearts are far removed. The Lord never intends our life to lay as ashes before Him. His intention is to set us free from all that hinders us- to bestow a crown of beauty. "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,and provide for those who grieve in Zion-- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor." But what if the very thing that hinders us is all the "stuff" we are doing for Him but without Him. Last week our student Pastor did his devotion from Revelation 2. The church of Ephesus was doing lots of good deeds for God and He praised them for it. However, he held one thing against them-"you have left your first love." The essence of the passage is that He was encouraged by their good deeds, but it wasn't enough. He wanted them to first experience Him -His Love-His Presence and then from an abundance go out and minister. Just as in the story of Martha and Mary. Martha was upset because Mary was not working but sitting at Jesus' feet. "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Mary was choosing to sit at His feet and soak up his Glory. Although Martha was doing good things she was running on irritation and empty because she was not doing it from an overflow of His presence in her life. Sometimes we have to put down our agenda's, our budgets, our ideas, our order of worship, our list, our activities, and see if we have left room for God. Do we please him in heart and attitude therefore His presence is poured out, or do we grieve His Spirit with our petty quarrels, disagreements, and bad attitudes which disconnects our fellowship with Him. I went to a church service where the preacher never spoke a word because the Lord was there in Spirit - conviction, forgiveness, mercy, and love filled the room. There was not a dry eye in the room because relationships had been restored, marriages saved, salvation given, and a fresh love restored. This did not happen because of any man's words or songs, but simply because of God's presence. It was the most amazing thing to experience.
My fire that I spoke of earlier went out because there had been no one their to fuel it. Once we turned our complete attention back to it we were able to have an outstanding fire. In order to do this we gave the ashes our full devotion, not allowing anything to distract us from it. The same is true with the Lord. If we are willing to give Him our full attention and call upon His name - He will answer.
Matthew 6:33 - But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Luke 12:31-32,34 (Phi) "set your heart on his kingdom, and your food and drink will come as a matter of course.... For wherever your treasure is, you may be certain that your heart will be there too!"
May we find ourself this Thanksgiving season, and all of our days, first and foremost on our faces before the one true God. If you are a Christian pray fervently that God will start a revival and His presence will be known. Maybe you just need a fresh flame because day to day stresses have caused you to loose site of your "first love." Whatever the need the Lord is willing to answer if we are willing to call on His name. The fire is always present but sometimes we just need to stir the ashes.