Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fuel for the Fire

Have you ever tried to start a fire with limited supplies?  Probably you haven’t.  It’s common today for lighters and paper to be readily accessible, and if you’re truly brazen (or a little crazy) you can always throw in a little gasoline or lighter fluid.  But, remember that scene in the movie “Cast Away”?  Tom Hanks is stranded on an island and his limited survival skills tell him he needs a fire.  Like a desperate boy scout, he tries twisting a stick between his palms till they blister.  He rubs splintered wood till he cuts his hand.  The frustration mounts as he begins throwing things and yelling.  Eventually Tom makes the fire, and he pours on it every branch and twig he can find.  It’s even comical as he begins dancing around the fire like a boy, caught up in the wonder and power of it all.

Now, take notice, before the fire could be marveled at there had to be supplies to make it and fuel to keep it going.  In the Christian walk is it possible that we lose our sense of wonder, not because we have heard it all, but because we have not heard it enough?

The famous apologist, Ravi Zacharias, was asked in Q&A time about his personal devotion routine.  He described it simply as daily morning scripture reading and prayer, adding with his typical sophisticated insightfulness, "You will never have a sense of wonder until you have an input of ideas that exceeds the outflow of words."

As a minister this struck me hard.  It is easy and even tempting at times to lose sight of personal growth in the Lord as we focus on the growth of those to whom we minister.  However, with time, the wonder fades.  The joy seeps away, and it becomes more and more difficult to find the right text or illustration, to plan ahead, dream big, or even care about the flock given to us.  Essentially, we start to run on empty.  

George Müller, a preacher in the 1800‘s who established 117 schools, understood this well ...

I saw more clearly than ever that the first great primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord . . . not how much I might serve the Lord, . . . but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers . . . and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit. Before this time my practice had been . . . to give myself to prayer after having dressed myself in the morning. Now, I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the Word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord.  -  “The Life of Trust” George Müller

What fuel are you giving your soul?  Before you meet that coworker who needs the gospel, before you wrestle with the difficult task of showing Jesus to your kids, before you endure the temptations of the day is your soul prepared with the Spirit?  Is your soul happy in the Lord?  Is your soul filled with wonder at the life of Christ?

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