The Funny Thing About Fire ...

“Consuming fire, fan into flame a passion for Your Name …”
“Holy fire, burn away …”
“Stir in me a fire that the world cannot explain …”
“Fire, fall down on us we pray …”
“Come be the fire inside of me, come be the flame upon my heart …”
I find it enrapturing and utterly fascinating that the Spirit of God is often likened to a flame, an all-consuming fire that purges us, ignites us … incinerates us …

We gather together in our worship services, lift our hands, and sing lyrics like, “Consuming fire, fan into flame a passion for Your Name!” We sing in hunger for God’s Spirit, in expectation of His movement, in hope of seeing His hand. We ask for His Holy Fire, we ask that a fire be stirred within us, one that will inspire the world around us.

But the funny thing about fire is that it … well … burns. And anyone who’s been burned by fire knows—it’s painful.

So I wonder why we are so surprised when, after singing for God’s fire to fall down upon us, life starts to get uncomfortable. We forget the effect of flames when they come too close.  We forget how God’s holy flames …
lick away at our material possessions,
burn away all of our selfish desires and ambitions, 
char any remnant of sin in our lives,
melt our hearts of stone, our layers and layers of cynicism,
incinerate any trace of our fleshly self,
ashen our dreams,
blind us with their glorious truth,
refine us as precious metals …

And the list goes on. But the point is, if we ask for God’s fire, we are sure going to get it; the room could get pretty hot pretty fast.  When fire gets too close, it is definitely uncomfortable, but the results of God’s flames are nothing short of miraculous.
When a dark, ugly lump of coal (an appropriate metaphor for us) undergoes immense pressure and lots of heat, it will—guess what—turn into a gorgeous gemstone. How encouraging for us to know that when we do ask for God’s consuming fire to fan into flame, and all of a sudden His fire spreads within and without us, burning away all that was familiar and comfortable, and the pressures of this world weigh ever stronger upon us, we find ourselves gradually (yet gloriously!) transforming into the toughest and most beautiful of all substances: a dazzling diamond. 

So when you ask for His fire, I hope you know just what you might be getting yourself into.  
 And I hope we will keep asking.

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