There’s nothing like a warm fire
If you’ve ever owned a wood stove or a wood-burning fireplace – and I mean the real kind, not the gas log kind – you know how rewarding it is to get a good fire going in one of them. There’s the sound of the roaring fire, the aroma of the wood, the crackle from the occasional sparks and the hypnotic, meditative dance of the flames.
It requires hard work and deliberate effort
You also know how hard it can be to get a fire started sometimes and how hard it is to rekindle a fire that has gone cold.
God told the Levitical priests to keep the fire on the altar going at all times.
The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out. (Leviticus 6:13)
That meant people had to gather kindling. Others had to cut down trees. A team of people had to split and stack wood (and this was in the days before powered wood splitters). Somebody had to plan and coordinate the effort. They couldn’t just pile wood on the altar and hope for a lightning strike. God was not going to miraculously or magically light the altar fire. He left tending the fire to them. It was going to be hard work and deliberate.
The altar fire is a picture of what should be happening in our own hearts
What God was asking the Levites to do is symbolic of what He expects from all of His people. Our passion and devotion to God must be deliberate. That means hard work and conscious effort. God is not going to magically light a fire in our heart and we cannot wait around for a lightning strike of emotion to keep our fire for God alive. Like any relationship, we have to work at it to make it work.
There’s some pretty mundane effort involved
What does ‘keeping the fire alive’ look like? It looks like making it a point to be in God’s Word every day. How do you do that? You treat it like any other commitment. You make an appointment with God and you keep it. There should be a set time in our schedule where our only business is to be in God’s Word.
What else does it look like? It looks like being regular in prayer and thanksgiving. Why do you think Paul said “Pray without ceasing,” and “In everything give thanks?” Those are commands to keep the fire burning!
It all sounds mundane, even boring. But what does Scripture tell us? “Let us not be weary in well doing for: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9. See also 2 Thessalonians 3:13).
Hard work, maybe but with eternal benefit
What’s nice about a wood stove is that once you’ve done the hard work of getting it started, when you get the fire rolling nicely, it’s easy to keep it going. You just have to be faithful and stay at it. Then not only are you blessed but so are others. You just have to keep the fire fed.