Flickering Flames

For the first sermon of 2014, our pastor preached about two words that captured his personal desire and his aim for the church this year:


As he offered time for response, I considered my spirituality. Why don’t I feel like I am “burning” for God? With my role on our worship ministry, past experience as a lead worshiper, and a blog name like “SonWorshiper” you’d think maybe I’d be all God, all the time.

But that’s not how my days play out.

All too often, I keep God in the “church” box. I block off calendar events based on what area of responsibility they fall under – work, church, personal, family. Frequently it seems I adapt my actions the same way.

I’m at church, so it’s time to be smiley, helpful, and religious.
I’m at work, so it’s time to focus on results, effectiveness, and the mission.
I’m in public with my kids, so it’s time to be the nice Dad.
I’m at home, so it’s ME time, stop interrupting my video games!

I thought about the intermittent spiritual fire I experience — naturally I was thinking about that because it was church and you spend church time thinking about churchy things you don’t have to think about throughout the week. I came up with a picture of my problem.

The pastor’s chosen verse mentions servants who keep lamps burning, ready and waiting for their master. Fire is necessary, to stay burning.

And today, fire is so easy to come by. Flick a lighter and I’ve got it. Turn a switch on the gas stove and the burner comes to life. I’ve got lighter fluid and matches, or a long-barreled lighter, so I’m ready to barbecue.

Fire is available whenever I want, so the thought of it going out doesn’t bother me.

As a Christian in America, spirituality is everywhere. Need a pick-me-up? Put in a Christian CD, or download a song off iTunes. Or listen to one of the many Christian radio stations.

Get devotions from anywhere online. Have them e-mailed to you. Or get a spiritual tweet. In fact, follow a bunch of your religious favorites, and your Twitter feed will be full of nuggets of wisdom to digest whenever you need a spiritual snack.

If you want more to think about, read a blog or ten. Watch the Christian channels on Cable. Check out some YouTube videos of worship songs or sermons. Download a cool app with a Scripture reading plan or flash cards for memorization. Or if you feel old-school, pick up a Bible and a highlighter.

It’s all around us, so it’s easy to take for granted.

My oldest son is on a Man vs. Wild kick, and he has even built himself a survival kit. This calls to mind my own survival training for the Air Force.

When you’re out in the cold, with limited supplies, suddenly fire matters. It’s your life.

It takes time to build. It takes effort and vigilance to maintain. You don’t let it die, or you die.

Why do I think my spiritual fire is less important?

What do you think? How does one stay burning for God? Or is that even necessary?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment.

One thought on “Flickering Flames”

  1. I notice when times are good, things are going well, and we have all we need – God feels distant. I’m not aware of the need for Him. When I see others hurting or in need, and I am able to help them out, or give them helpful advice, I’m not aware of the need to rely on God. When life is manageable, with small, short bouts of stress, I’m a little more aware, but then it’s easy to put my need for God on that figurative back-burner, on low heat. When circumstances get overwhelming, and things keep piling on with responsibilities that have to be carried out by me, and then on top of that all, my dad dies – I am beyond aware that there is no way I can make it without complete reliance on God. To be my strength, my guidance, my help, to work it all for my good because I love Him and live to serve His purpose being fulfilled through my life and to love others through me.

    I cannot do anything without God. He is my crutch, and even when I feel strong on my own, it takes adverse circumstances to be reminded that I’m really not strong at all on my own without Him, He just continues to help me and be reliable when I’m not even paying attention. I don’t even care what anyone thinks about me saying He is my crutch, because I need God so much more than I will ever need approval from those who cannot look past themselves or their opinions to find Him.

    I think the difference comes down to focus: am I focusing on my own ability to just do what I need to do? Or, am I focusing on my need to rely on God, because even when I *think* I’ve got it, I really don’t. It’s like my physical condition has been the past few months, I am not strong, I have needed help with things that used to need no thought to even do, or I would never have had the need to get help with. Spiritually, I need to remember to seek God, to make sure I am right where He needs me to be. I am near to God, and that fire burns strong when I am willing to lay down my pride in my own ability to do everything, and instead seek God for help with everything. I don’t mean silly things, like what to wear. I mean stuff like interacting with others, accomplishing daily things, my attitude and getting stressed when things don’t work out like I planned for them to.

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