Steve and I like the reality show `Survivor’ and have watched a number of seasons. I am always surprised when someone comes on the show and has no idea about lighting a fire. Surely, if you know that you are going to be on national television and put in a survival situation, you might just want to brush on your survival skills. Lighting a fire is one of them. In some ways I am just as surprised at people who go through life unprepared for the challenges thrown at them despite knowing that life is going to require them to survive. When Paul challenges keep spiritual fervour, our spiritual passion, and to keep our spiritual fire burning…. maybe he knows our potential to allow the fire to go out.
This is part three of a strategy God gave me a number of years ago to help keep my heart on fire for God. As a teenager our home used a old fashion wood stove to heat the water and cook our food. This meant that we were reliant on that fire not going out.
You can read the other parts of this blog here:
Heart On Fire
Heart on Fire 2
One of the important lessons I learnt when trying to get the hot water system boiling hot or at least get the fire going long enough to get that hot water service boiling was the removal of the ashes. A wood stove has a tray at the bottom of the oven where the ashes fall. If you don’t regularly clean out this tray the fire gets smothered with ashes the wood doesn’t burn efficiently or the fire goes out completely. I only knew this when our house began to fill with smoke, the wood stopped burning and the fire went out and …the water was not even warm.
Leviticus 6 tells us that before the priests even replenished the wood they had to remove the ashes, the by product and left over material of the wood that had burnt throughout the previous day. They constantly replenished the wood and constantly removed the ashes. They didn’t remover them because it was pretty and fun. They did it because it helped keep the fire going.
Ashes are the by-product of a productive fire. Before adding fresh wood…remove the ashes of a the wood already burned. If you are relying on past moments of replenishment you are relying on the ashes of a previous burn.
Checking for ashes from our past that have been allowed to accumulate and settle in our hearts is a great way of keeping the fire and passion fresh. Are there ashes that have settled in your heart that need removing…
This a great time of year to evaluate what you don’t want to take into the rest of the year. February is often where we bury our goals and fresh ideas for a new year because the ashes we were meant to remove from last year are still there stifling our ability to burn well.
Don’t go into another week with the ashes of 2013 still sitting in your heart -annoyances, disappointment, grievances, offence, unforgiveness, resentment, cynicism, insincerity,
Ashes are the by-product of daily sacrifice. Without a fire the ashes wouldn’t exist…but they do need to be removed. Ignoring the ashes does nothing. Pretending they don’t exist does nothing. We actually have to do something with them.
As you journey through 2014 there will be times when those disappointments and hurts and stuff will again begin to accumulate. Let the priest (Jesus Christ) daily clear out the ashes that will dull the fire and zeal. Without daily repentance and confession, without coming before God and asking him to make us clean…it won’t be long before the ashes impact on how fired up we are.
When you are tempted to pull back or quit …evaluate your heart and see if some ashes of offense of bitterness have begin the o accumulate.
The tools beside a fire are not there to make the fire look good…They have purpose. We have been given tools to remove the ashes.. Confession, repentance, forgiveness, prayer…Use the tool to activate the cleansing process.
I love that ashes have a purpose. Over time the ashes cool and the ember die and these ashes have a tremendous amount of nutrition and can be used to spread over garden beds and used for filler in dog food. Over time the ashes of our lives will be used to spread on the garden of someone’s life to bring nutritional value to their life. If we allow the priest to remove them, he will use them to bless the garden of someone else’s heart. What ever you walk through can be used for good if you let the gardener take them and use them for his glory. Don’t let disappointment turn to bitterness.. Let it be used to bring grace to another’s life.
I love it when Paul says in Philippians 3: .. `one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead’..one thing…of all the things you are involved in and doing this year, of all the priorities and all the decisions and all the busyness of life…make one thing a priority…forget what is behind…leave it behind….straining towards what is ahead…don’t let the past define you and don’t take last year and it’s stuff with you into your future….Remove the ashes daily…don’t let the fire go out…