Monday, June 18, 2007

The Fire Within

"I believe you need to have something more than smoke to touch people. You need to be a burning light for that. His ministers must be flames of fire....I tell you, a flame of fire can do anything! Things change in the fire....And whatever you do, don't let your heart get in the wrong place, for it is there where all the illumination comes, and you are made a flame by the igniting of His power inside." (Smith Wigglesworth)

"The world is cold. Someone must be on fire so that people can love and put their cold hands and feet against that fire. If anyone allows this to happen...then he will become a fireplace at which men can warm themselves....The English word "zeal" usually means intensity of action. But real zeal is standing still and letting God be a bonfire in you. It's not very easy to have God's fire within you. Only if you are possessed of true zeal will you be able to contain God's bonfire....The Lord is calling us to stand still before Him while walking with men." (Catherine Doherty)

"Silence is the discipline by which the inner fire of God is tended and kept alive....What needs to be guarded is the life of the Spirit within us. Especially we who want to witness to the presence of God's Spirit in the world need to tend the fire within with utmost care....Our first and foremost task is faithfully to care for the inward fire so that when it is really needed it can offer warmth and light to lost travelers." (Henri Nouwen)

I love these quotes and find them to be very challenging and compelling in a good way. As believers we naturally have a longing to know God and to be known by Him. One outcome of that mutual knowing is knowing God's heart that loves and cares for other people and where they are at. But what do we have to offer them?

Perhaps we can help meet physical needs like for food or clothing, or we can listen when someone needs to talk, we can give money where there is a need...these are good things to do. But I believe more than that, people are lonely, they are hungry for love and companionship, for knowing that someone cares about them. And I think to be most effective in this kind of ministry, which is a ministry we all can and should have, we need to have the inner fire of God.
We need to have it tended and kept alive so that when it is needed, it is already burning and we can offer a warming presence to cold, lost, or weary men and women.

What a wonderful possibility that we could be reflections of God's love and light in this world. But there is a price to pay, although love would call it a joy, not a price. The "price" is spending time in His presence, letting Him warm our own souls and kindling the flames freshly in our own hearts. Then as we go out each day, we can go out "practicing the presence of God" in the midst of practical duties, as Brother Lawrence wrote about - learning how to cultivate an inner dialogue with God as we go about our daily lives.

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