Shoring the Fire
We know by picking up too many tasks or putting down important practices we dampen our relationship with God by creating distance. We have also seen how God restored Elijah and rekindled their relationship through gentle care and provision. But the next important thing to consider is shoring up our reignited fire. How do we keep God’s fire in us lit?
Can we guarantee it it will never go out again?
If history is any indication, then no. Falling away is part of the human condition.
However, just because we may not be able to stop our fire going out altogether, there are things we can do to help us stay on track and have it happen less often.
It’s all about checks and balances.
Fighting on two fronts
And I mentioned in previously in this series, our life is a battle. Satan does not want us close to God, so he will do whatever he can to keep us distanced. Scripture calls Satan “the god of this age”, and once our fire is out, he will use all his cunning to stop us relighting our fire.
We fight this battle on two fronts: internal and external.
The internal battle requires us to actively fight sin and the draw of the world upon our lives.
Our best strategic offence here is taking up (picking up) the disciplines.
Funny how in today’s world Discipline can be a dirty word. But then, in God’s world it is the key to freedom, joy and shoring up the fire.
How and what disciplines we choose will depend on the type of person we are, the season we’re going through and our relationship with God. There is no right or wrong way to go about this, just as long as they are a regular part of our daily routine.
To see a great example of how the disciplines work, we can look to Jesus and His time among us.
- Time out – many times Jesus withdrew from the world to meditate, fast, and pray to assist him to draw closer to God
- Time in – spent time in the world, amongst people, sharing, teaching, debating, and demonstrating the Kingdom of God
- Scripture – Jesus read, understood and memorised Scripture. We read when he was 12 years old he was discussing Scripture with the teachers. This knowledge underpinned his teaching later life and when dealing with Satan in the wilderness.
- Guidance – Because He knew His Father, loved Him, and acknowledged who He was, Jesus sort guidance and leading from God. Not from the world, the church or cultural expectations.
- Submission – And flowing on from this, once he knew His Father’s will, he obeyed.
Adding to the list
Following Jesus example is the place to start. But over the years, I have come some other resources that have helped as well. I expect you have too.
- Richard Foster – Celebration of Discipline showed me a new take on the disciplines and simple steps to try
- Brother Lawrence – The Practice of the Presence of God brought the disciplines into the everyday
- Thomas A Kempis – The Imitation of Christ shared insights that hit home for me
- Mother Basilea Schlink – Let me stand in your Presence is a moving reflection of Jesus journey from Gethsemane to Calvary
- Warren Wiersbe – The Strategy of Satan gives a spiritual checklist which lifted my game
- Biographies – eg Jesus Freaks. Other people’s stories continue to inspire me.
Putting it into practice:
A word of caution regarding the disciplines. They can’t become a to-do list.
The disciplines are not about ticking boxes, they’re about connection with God.
Their primary goal is to help us draw closer to God and strengthen our relationship with him. As soon as something is not, we need to put it down, because it’s has become a hindrance, not an aid.
We also need to remember it’s not a competition. We are all unique. How we relate to God and what disciplines we use to connect with Him are between us and God. The main thing is whatever disciplines we choose can’t stay in a book. They must soak in deep and change the culture of our lives.
In the Spiritual battle the disciplines are part of our offensive attack against sin, the world and the devil.
However, when we’re attacked externally, when we are afflicted by things outside our control.
External attack is when Satan actively focuses his attention on us to tempt us to distance ourselves from God.
This is when we strategically defend ourselves.
Satan has many ways to bring us down. And just as our relationship with God is unique and hand crafted, so too is Satan’s attack. Let’s look at his weapons so we can prepare our defence. Note: I have used Warren Wiersbe’s Strategy of Satan as a guide for this.
What he whispers to us might be different, but our defence is the same. Know God’s truth. My Paster told me a great way to handle this is by turning every lie around. If Satan says God doesn’t love you. Flip it. If Satan tells you God can’t forgive you, won’t answer your prayer, meet your need, save you etc. Flip it. He not only can, and will, He is and will continue doing so.
Satan may test your commitment to God by causing you to suffer like Job. “He only loves you because of what you give him. Take it away and he will curse you.” As we get to know our precious Saviour, we learn that His grace is sufficient. He will see us through our time of trial.
Satan’s own sin was pride and it’s one we are very susceptible to. Like David, when life is good and we’re cruising along successfully, we can forget who is responsible for those victories and who has granted us peace. By staying close to God we can’t help but humbly accept how much He has done, and how we have done nothing to earn our peace.
Guilt is another powerful weapon. Satan likes to remind us of all our sin and shame. He likes to bring up every regretful thing we have done and play it on an endless loop. He uses shame and accusation to tempt us away from God’s embrace and truth: That is who we were. That is not who we are.
John said, “we love because he first loved us.” Whilst he was referring to loving our neighbour, I believe we can expand on this.
We can draw close to God because He first drew close to us.
And I also believe this is the secret to reigniting, shoring up our fire.
God’s love provides the heat for the fire. And it is our reciprocal love and gratitude for what He has done that drives us to draw close to him. Here, in His presence, we are able to listen and learn. The more we learn, the more we love, the more listen, the more we grow. In turn this creates an attitude of gratitude and understanding, perpetuating the cycle.
But we are human and prone to imperfection. So we need all the help we can get to stay close to God to keep our fire burning brightly. The disciplines and are a great way to do this by creating and embedding practices which create a new culture within us.
But as love is a choice, so too is the decision to pursue God and the disciplines that will support this result. As it is our choice to come back to reignite the fire when it fades. Choosing God, to listen, learn and be guided. Always asking:
- What do I need to put down? Then following through and putting it down
- What do I need to pick up? Then making the commitment to do so.
Shoring the fire is doing whatever we have to do to draw close to God. Intimacy provides the heat, listening is the oxygen, and the learning is the fuel this cycle runs on. It is never ending and always deepening.
I’m hoping that you might take away 3 things from this series:
- To reignite the fire and to stay lit requires us to do whatever we need to do to draw close to God.
- What that looks might be completely different to others, because we are each unique children of God. From within our personal relationship with God, He is inviting us to step outside the box be radically holy with Him. To stand apart from the world and take our guidance from Him alone as we glorify Him within the world.
- Be reassured when the fire goes out it doesn’t mean we are failures, we are, and will continue to be, loved. Our Father knows us, sees us, and will gently restore us, providing all we need to return to Him.
- What disciplines have you tried and what works best for you?
- What lies does Satan throw at you?
- What is one thing God is challenging you to take up or put down?