Stirring the coals and kindling the Spirit

Posted: 19th July 2007 by ElShaddai Edwards in Uncategorized

“That is why I remind you to stir into flame the gift from God which is yours through the laying on of my hands. For the spirit that God gave us is no cowardly spirit, but one to inspire power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7, REB)

The language of the REB continues to grab me. I was struck by the phrase “stir into flame” and immediately drawn back to my youth in Alaska. Our house was heated with hot water pipes that got energy from the wood-burning stove in the kitchen. Different types of tender provided different kinds of heat: split spruce logs would create a fast, hot fire that provided immediate heat, but quickly burnt down to ashes and needed to be constantly refilled; birch wood is denser and lasted longer, good for maintaining (relatively) even temperatures for cooking and baking; black coal collected from the ocean beaches (from underwater coal seams) lasted the longest and provided warmth long into the cool nights.

The first person up and awake in the morning was charged with starting the fire and warming the house for everyone. It was not unusual to see the tender box full of cold, gray ashes that needed to be sifted to create room for new tender. Yet the process of sifting and stirring the ashes more often than not revealed warm or even hot coals that were still burning and could be used to rebuild a fire. A scrap of newspaper or birch bark or spruce kindling was placed carefully on the coals and as the fire gained strength, additional fuel was added until a roaring fire began to chase away the night chill.

That memory provides me with a powerful reminder that once we’ve accepted Christ’s salvation and invited the Holy Spirit into our hearts and lives, He is always there, no matter how far we fall aside and let our fires languish. God’s coal is eternal and never loses its ability to create the heat and light that chases shadows from even our darkest corners. All we have to do is let Him take away our cold ashes, revealing the live coals of His love for us, and new kindling can be added to fan His Spirit into flames in our lives again.