Sparks were flying into the dark, as I lay next to a crackling fire. How many stars are there really, I lay there thinking? The jackal howled somewhere in the distance. A chilly breeze, a caress on my face. I drifted to sleep.
A cold drop woke me. The warm fire was still burning next to me. The flames dancing in the night. Another cold drop.
“It’s raining,” someone shouted, and we scuffled to get out of our blankets. We needed to take cover. My father never enjoyed setting up a tent, in fact he did not even own one.
“Get the blankets into the car,” he shouted.
Nine-year-old me grabbed the blanket in front of me and got into the single cab Bakkie, squashed in-between my brother, sister and father.
“We need to keep the fire burning,” my father said as he exited a while later. Every so often that night, the cold wet wind would hit me as he ran outside to throw some wood onto the fire.
Keep the fire burning, became the mantra for the night.
I have no idea how he managed in that downpour. But sometime late the next morning, the downpour became lighter. He had brought with him a huge plastic cover usually used for long-distance trucks. The thing was too heavy to lift, so he pulled it into the trees by using a rope tied to the one end and the other to the Bakkie.
All this time the fire was still burning. Coffee had never tasted better.
It’s a trip we still reminisce about. This rain, which had come suddenly Good Friday night, continued the entire Saturday. By Easter morning, it cleared up a bit and we could go egg hunting.
It doesn’t rain much in these parts, but when it does, we are usually a happy nation. And since that trip, my father has always gone camping a little better prepared for the rain.
Why you may think was it so important to keep the fire burning?
Well for one, while camping fire is used to cook food. If you want coffee in the morning, you need a pleasant couple of warm coals. And, as you may deduce, it is practically impossible to start a new fire when everything is wet.
The bible also speaks of keeping the fire burning. In the book of Leviticus, it is a command for the priests to fuel the fire upon which they placed the offerings.
“The fire must always be kept burning on the altar continually don’t let it go out.”Leviticus 6:13 (FBV)
Remarkably enough though, the priests not set ablaze this fire, but God himself.
During the Israelis wandering in the desert, God led them as a fire by night. The Holy Spirit is often identified symbolically as fire. It is also this Holy Spirit who comes to live on the inside of us when we become true believers in Christ. We could say we receive a living fire in our hearts. A spark that can never be quenched.
When we grow cold …
Although admittedly, we do at times grow cold. And sometimes we can’t find the spark or flame. It is during these times we must seek God to set our passion for Him ablaze again. We pray and trust that He will do what only He can.
It’s this kind of sentiment the song “Soul on Fire” by Third Day, expresses.
It is possible for certain areas of our heart to grow cold. When you throw some cold coal onto a blazing fire, this coal heats again. In a similar fashion when parts of us become hot, the other parts spark.
In the same manner, when we fellowship with blazing hot Christians, their flame sets us ablaze. And with fellowship, I mean not only we go to church. I mean, we build friendships, share joy and pain. Even chat over a cup of coffee, or enjoy a shared meal. Get together. Pray together.
(Read Proverbs 27:17, Proverbs 13:20 and Romans 12 verses 10 to 13)
When we build each other up, we become willing to work hard and serve God with an enthusiastic spirit. We get the strength to endure life’s troubles with a cheerful spirit. And we keep the fire on the altar of our heart, burning hot, even in the downpours this world will unexpectantly unleash.