Keep the fire burning with God’s help

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 4, 2014

The decision was the easy part. No, maybe finding a place to stay was easier. Never mind. Getting

the kids to join us was absolutely

the easiest part of the plan my husband and I had to get away for a few days after Christmas. The toughest part for me was actually leaving town.

In addition to the planning and packing, I made a trip to the eye

doctor’s office to pick up contact lenses for one child who was working, filled another’s prescription, and accompanied a third to the

doctor. Thankfully, Monique was able to fulfill her duties as the

oldest child by going ahead and checking into the condo. Most of the family joined her, settled in and stocked the pantry long before I arrived.

As soon as I joined them, I walked toward the fireplace, flipped the switch and asked for help to rearrange the furniture. I wanted the sofas closer to the fireplace. Quickly overruled, I sat down in the lone chair I was able to relocate. Either no one else wanted to sit there or they all enjoyed the quiet person I became when I sank into the chair. Regardless, that spot became mine and early one morning the dancing flames lured me back in time to a winter afternoon when I was the stay-at-home mom of two preschoolers.

Michael had come home for lunch and built a fire in the fireplace for me to enjoy while Monique and Geoffrey napped. As I relaxed before the fire, God gave me instructions for living that I carried into my future. Little did I know my future would cast me with five children, a full-time teaching position and a husband whose job included much travel. Less did I realize how many times I would return to that afternoon, that fire and that precious quiet time with my God. I’m grateful I paid attention when I heard the Great Teacher impress upon my heart, “I’m going to show you how to stay on fire without burning out.” Although many, many words have been written on the topic, God knows me, my love of simplicity and my limited attention span, so His lesson was reduced to three easy points.

First, feed the flame. The love and energy I have for God, my family and the precious people and activities He places in my life will grow if I keep the fire burning. Wood is necessary for a fire; proper diet, exercise and rest for a body; and the spiritual nutrition of God’s Word and prayer are needed for me to burn brightly for Him.

Second, remove the ashes. Spent ashes in a fireplace should not be allowed to accumulate but must

be removed. I must release my grip on things that are over. Clinging to the past is draining and hinders the new things God wants to do in my life. I must always move on with God.

Finally, stay within the boundaries. A fire in a fireplace is warm and inviting. The same fire, if placed on a coffee table, would be destructive, cause people to flee and may even require professional help to extinguish. I have to recognize and stay within my limits to maximize my life. As much as I would like, I cannot change others. I have a difficult enough time trying to make changes in my own life. Trying to control things over which I have no control brings quick exhaustion. On the other hand, when God adds new responsibilities, He provides additional strength and grace to match the task.

Life has changed in many ways since the afternoon that lesson was written on my heart. With each change, each twist, each complexity, I return to the afternoon my toddlers slept as God spoke to me through the roar of a fire.

Ronny may be reached at