I poked at the fire, frustrated that it wouldn’t stay aflame. This girl was no scout. The temperatures outside had reached single digits, and our furnace was having a hard time keeping up.
After spending an hour trying different techniques, adding wood, scraps of paper, and using more fire starters than any person should, the flame blazed hot enough for the wood stove’s fan to cut on, circulating the heat throughout the house. My mouth spread into a victorious smile.
The problem was, I didn’t know what I’d done right.
Later, after my husband returned from a business trip, he explained the basics of fire building to this city girl. I listened intently, determined not to have the predicament repeat itself.
Even my son, the cub scout, knew the basics of fire 101. I guess I should have asked him, right?
As any seasoned camper may know, fires need three basic components: heat, fuel, and oxygen. It turns out, I had given my fire plenty of heat and fuel, but I’d neglected oxygen almost altogether. Instead of giving my flame room to breath by spreading the wood in a triangular shape, I’d smothered it.
Fires need room to breathe. And much like the flame I’d suffocated with its own fuel, I often adapt the same pattern in my spiritual life.
I know my heat comes from the Holy Spirit living inside me, so I feed the flame with his Word and plenty of good reading material, podcasts and worship. I gather with other believers, lead and serve.
But often, I don’t allow space to breathe. To digest what he’s teaching me. To sit in his presence and be still with no agenda, no checklist or index of requests I need to present.
While we fixate on the lines of our life story, God often speaks in the margins. Click To Tweet
In the spaces in-between the carpools, the play dates and the prayer meetings. In the moments where we slow down, we sit and we wait. Because the voice of God is always worth waiting for.
“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10 NIV
So instead of piling more stuff onto my never-ending to-do list, I’m carving out time to listen. Even if it starts with fifteen minutes before my kids roll out of bed, it will be worth it.
I’m creating a space to not simply read the Word, but hear from the Word.
Will you join me? Many times, we throw too many scraps on our spiritual fire, suffocating it so much it has no room to breathe. I have. I am guilty. I’ve placed a list of chores on the altar of life, forgetting what God wants most is my heart.
But thanks be to God, his mercies are new every morning.
It is never to late to realign our priorities, to make a change or create a new beginning. Today is the day.
Fan the flame.
Not sure how to create margin in your life? Good news! I am teaching a FREE workshop titled Creating Margin: The Crucial Element of Self-Care at the 2020 Christian Women’s Self-Care Conference. There are also 55+ other amazing workshops, all available free for a limited limited time! Click the link below to register and learn more.
Oh, Abby! So true! So true! I am finding myself in a listening season, waiting on Him! I pray we all listen well. Beautiful post, friend.
Abby McDonald says
Praying he uses this season in amazing ways, friend. Thank you for your sweet encouragement!
Kristi Woods says
Fan the flame–amen. Sometimes–far too often, honestly–I find myself running and not waiting. The busyness snuffs out the flame. But He faithfully waits while I come to my senses and quiet the world, waiting with expectation and simply “being” in His presence. And that’s a beautiful place. Good encouragement, Abby. Thank you for continuing to champion not only your race with God, but ours too. Merry Christmas, friend.
Abby McDonald says
Oh, friend. How I get that. I’m often the same way. Thank God for his patience and grace. He is such a great teacher, when I’m willing to listen. xoxo Merry Christmas to you too!
I needed to read this today. Thank you Abby for a beautiful post.
Lisa Appelo says
So true, Abby! Sometimes all the other voices (even good voices) get too loud and we can’t hear what God is personally saying to us.
Thank you so much for sharing. I spent years building fires in our wood furnace. Sometimes i did a great job starting the fire and keeping it going. Other times, i struggled and had more smoke than fire. The same in my spiritual life. I know what to do, i know what fans the fire in my spiritual life but too many times i don’t. I wish i could write that i am young but i am 70 and struggle. Your thoughts are the thoughts many of us struggle with. Thank you for allowing God to speak through you.
Abby McDonald says
Janice, you may be 70 but if you’re still living God’s not finished with you yet! Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m praying for you today. God bless and Happy New Year!
Please see above comment i have left.