As I watch the fire this morning it surprises me how much the physical can teach us of the spiritual, the seen of the unseen. The tongues of fire in Acts chapter two are no haphazard representation of the Holy Spirit!
THE BREATH OF THE SPIRIT KINDLES A FIRE WITHIN US
It took a lot of air to kindle the campfire this morning. It took both the morning breeze and my morning breath! We know that “prayer is the breath of the soul” (Ellen White, Gospel Workers, 254). Normal breathing however, will never ignite a flame. It takes specifically directed, persistent, forceful exhalations that long for light and heat to dispel the cold and darkness. That breath combines with the invisible currents of the air, the wind at times so subtle that we cannot even feel it, yet we know it is there working, and at last springs forth the flame (John 3:8). Winds are also compared with strife in the Scriptures. The Spirit of God strives with us. He agitates us. He awakens us to our need of Him. Before the Holy Spirit can ignite us with the power of Pentecost, we must yield to it’s influence in our lives. The Holy Spirit, unseen as the wind, moves us, shakes us and changes our course. When we are reborn of the Spirit we will learn how to pray, and that prayer can rekindle Pentecost.
CRACKED, KNOTTED AND PITCHY ARE QUICKEST TO KINDLE
Oh, but how slow the wood is to respond! The green stuff is particularly resistant. As long as self is alive, the divine cannot ignite in us, we can never be on fire. The larger the log, the longer it must be enveloped in flame before it lights up. So we look for smaller sticks. We must be little in our own eyes in order to be fitted to receive the Holy Spirit. The cracked, knotted, pitchy and dry, those we consider most uncomely and apparently ill prepared for usefulness are often the quickest to kindle. They are the most responsive and readily used.
EACH PIECE LEANS ON THE OTHER
The arrangement of the wood in respect to each other is also key to success. When the firewood is put together and each piece leans on another, the flame shoots up and takes hold with greater force. When I pull out a burning branch, however, it quickly goes out. Like neatly stacked rounds, the apostles “were all of one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1). When Christ’s plea of John 15 comes true again, there will be a blaze to heat all the way through to the backside-ends of the earth. Let us therefore “Not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhort one another, and so much the more, as we see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
Oh, and one more thing: there is no reason for the burning stick to argue with the burning log about who is better! Both must be consumed to fulfill the purposes of God. For the flame to increase, we must decrease.
FIRE INSPIRES A COMPOSITIONAL TRANSFORMATION
As the fire continues to burn, the wood undergoes a chemical and compositional transformation. The wood heats up, and liquid within turns to gas and leaks out, hissing through the widening gaps between molecules. I watch a jet of vapor escape from the end of one log: sporadically it combusts, shooting out like a flamethrower, and causing the wood to burn even hotter.
As we are cleansed of self and the impurities within, by the work of the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to have a lukewarm experience. It is impossible to remain the same person. We will experience a radical transformation.
FIRE PREPARES VESSELS FOR GOD
At last the dead wood has been converted into living coals. The glory is interior, yet externally it is clearly visible. The fire is now on the inside, the coals are completely possessed; they are vessels of fire, prepared for the direct presence of the Almighty God (Ezekiel 1:13, 21:14, Psalms 18:12-13).