As we near the end of January, with one month of the year already gone, one birthday down and another this weekend, I am very aware that 2014 is well and truly underway. Due to our overseas trip in November, it is almost three months of holidays coming to an end. One of the things I am looking forward to as we head back into the rhythm of a new school year is my daily devotions.
Earlier this year I shared with our church a strategy that God gave me several years ago that has helped evaluate my relationship with God. I use the analogy of a fire (which is very symbolic in scripture) to compare my own spiritual fire and zeal. This is part 2 of that strategy. You can read Part 1 here : http://daretoflourish.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/heart-on-fire/ You’ll remember I share a story from my teens (growing up with a wood fire) and this story has helped me see my experience in the natural, in a spiritual light.
As I began the process of getting that wood stove fire going there were three stand out things that helped. It was not easy and there were a few hilarious and not so funny moments that may have involved kerosene, petrol and metho and burnt eyebrows and choking hazards…
The first thing you need to not only get the fire going but also keep it going is an ample supply of fuel.
This year I need to keep REPLENISHING THE `WOOD’.
Romans 12:11 in the Message says `don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame’
Leviticus 6:13…Replenish the wood….
That word replenish is so refreshing. It is a word that sounds inviting. It is a word that beckons me to move towards something inviting. Replenish sounds like an invitation to something that is good for me.
The dictionary defines replenish as:
To fill, to make complete again;
To add a new stock
To add to the current supply
To become full again.
replenish – fill something that had previously been emptied;
make full – make full, also in a metaphorical sense
To top up, replace, renew
The invitation to replenish is an invitation to find grace, to find nourishment, to be satisfied, to experience fullness and completeness and to be renewed.
2014 for me is about intentional replenishment!!!
The word replenish is inviting me to leave what I am doing in order to tend the fire an make sure there is enough fuel to burn for what is up ahead.
The yearning for replenishment comes because we are pouring out. I don’t want 2014 to be a year of empty yearning but rather, to be full of intentional moments and spaces that have been made for the purpose of replenishment.
Any fire that isn’t burning doesn’t need wood. The fuel has no purpose without a fire. It is a natural outcome of a soul on fire for God to need something to burn. A ‘passionate-on- fire-for-God-life’ needs fuel to burn. When we feel empty or feel like our fire is dying we tend to withdraw from the living word instead of leaning in. Why do we stop eating when we are so hungry. Why do we withdraw from the WORD when we are weary or feel spent? … It is not a negative thing but evidence of a life on fire for God. A soul on fire should feel the need of replenishment. that craving for fuel can lead us to seek ‘fuel’ in things that will make our fire die.
I must ensure there is space in my day and my routine and in my priorities to replenish the wood. 2014 has already got a plan for replenishment in place: My morning devotions or evenings on days that mornings don’t happen, gatherings, church services, the retreats, the holiday walks on the beach, my journals have been purchased. My plan is in place already to make replenishment happen. It doesn’t just fall in my lap…I must feed the fire. I must protect these replenishment spaces. There are replenishment thieves ready to pounce from January 1st. They come in disguise, dressed up in the costumes of important and urgent. There are the counterfeits just waiting to step in and pretend to give what only the word of God can provide. I have to watch that my craving for fuel doesn’t cause me to seek counterfeits because they are easier to come by. That craving must lead me to the real deal.
There is always an ample supply of good quality wood. There is nothing wrong with the supply. It is my responsibility to respond to the invitation of `replenishment’. I must also intentionally look at what sort of wood my fire is burning and keep replenishing the fire. I cannot blame anyone else for a poor supply of wood. We have so much fuel available. It is never the pastor’s fault or the neighbours fault or my kids fault. My busy life is never an excuse to ignore the invitation to replenish but rather an indicator that I have not prioritized my soul. It was my dad’s responsibility to keep the wood pile stocked, and it was my brother’s responsibility to chop it up into burn able pieces for the family . There was always plenty of wood available because our father supplied the wood to the back yard all year round. There is always a fresh supply of wood available.
For any fire to burn well it needs a good supply of wood.
For any fire to keep burning it needs a good supply of wood.
For any fire to not go out it needs a consistent supply of wood.
The word of God is my fuel.
Kindling has purpose but it will not sustain the fire. There are seasons in my life when kindling is important and helpful to getting my soul fired up. Conferences and positioning myself in environments are vital for getting the fire going but if I rely on this form of replenishment I will spend more time finding kindling than actually serving God and living for him. Kindling has its purpose but I must be careful not to rely on it to sustain me.
Our wood stove could not burn pine wood without it leaving a residue on everything and filling our house with toxic fumes. Not everything I feed my fire is going to be good for me. It may burn well but those around me relying on my passion and zeal and spiritual fire will have to taste the toxic residue left on my life and breathe the toxic fragrance of what appears to be well burning fire. Not all wood is good for burning. Note to self…watch what I feed on. Not everything we eat is manna from heaven. Not everything I read, listen to and watch and feed on is going to be good for my soul. Don’t let others replenish my fire with toxic fuel. What others feed my fire will impact on how it burns. I can say NO! I can also filter what others feed me with what sort of fuel burns best in this stove of mine. The people around me can impact my fire.
I can accept the invitation to replenish before I need to. There is no expiry date on your invitation to replenish. Nor is there an RSVP date and if you miss it you don’t get any. The Father has ensured that the word became flesh and we now have constant communion with him as often as we need it. We don’t need to wait until the wood has burnt out. A wood stove often relies on the same wood and that sort of wood works for that sort of fire. The best pieces of wood don’t always look exciting. Manna became boring to the Israelites just like it does for us. When his supernatural supply becomes boring I must be careful not to look for something more exciting but at the cost of my fire being snuffed out. I don’t have to understand what I am feeding on. Manna was a substance that was hard to explain. It literally meant `what is it?’ So too is this fuel. If my kids have not tasted something before they are hesitant to try it. Experience can make us wary of what we have not tasted before. Trust the supplier. He knows what he has prepared for you even when you haven’t tasted it before.
When I feel burnt out… I will be tempted to stop replenishing or crave what doesn’t satisfy.. If anything, I may need to pull back on what is demanding at hand in order to respond to the important…an invitation to refuel and resist the urge to please people and yet burn out To say ‘Yes’ to the invitation to replenish require creating space amidst the urgent for the important…
One of the things that I am loving this year is the fact that others will be relying on me for replenishment. One of the rhythms I am really focusing on for the first 6 months of this year will be sitting in the book of Philippians, focusing on fleshing out the word of God in my own daily life. Most of our nurture groups will be doing this book and will be given access to my daily journal on this blog. This will appear as a password protected blog in your email so if you don’t want to read it just ignore it but for those who are doing Nurture groups in our church they will be given access to these. If you are not in a Nurture group but would like access to these please just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The fact that my nurture group will be reading my thoughts about Philippians helps me go back to Philippians and feed on it time and time again. Replenishing them helps me seek out replenishment for myself. Genesis 1:28 says `be fruitful and multiply’ but it also says…replenish the earth. Replenishment is a mandate placed on humanity from the beginning. I have a responsibility to replenish the earth. I have a responsibility to be a replenisher not a drainer. 2014 is not just about my own fire.
Accepting the invitation to replenish is a constant that I cannot afford to ignore.
The invitation is always there …what are you waiting for?
Do not let this fire go out…do not burn out; keep yourselves fuelled and aflame…