Starting is not sustaining

Like a burning fire, however, a faith that is ignited in a moment by love, must be sustained with many moments of an abiding love over time. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day.

We just returned from a camping trip to the north woods. Since this was a camping trip, campfires were a significant part of what we experienced over the course of the week. Campfires can be challenging since the weather affects them as does the kindling used to start the fires. Moist air does not make for good fires; damp kindling either. I like to influence my fires with a squirt of lighter fluid once the match has been applied to the kindling. This creates a hotter flame which, in theory, will bring about a more or less spontaneous fire. Getting these fires started is relatively easy when you’re using fuel, kindling and a match. Keeping them burning, however, is a different matter. In fact, it’s really two different processes. Starting and burning have a flame in common, and that’s about it. Keeping a fire burning requires skill with how the wood is piled, when and how you stoke it, and how often you add more wood. Ignition is all about spontaneity and burning about sustaining.

The Bible tells us that our faith is like a burning fire. Like a burning fire, however, a faith that is ignited in a moment by love, must be sustained with many moments of an abiding love over time.

Here’s a story: You can see them alongside the shuffleboard courts in Florida or on the porches of the old folks’ homes up north: an old man with snow-white hair, a little hard of hearing, reading the newspaper through a magnifying glass; an old woman in a shapeless dress, her knuckles gnarled by arthritis, wearing sandals to ease her aching arches. They are holding hands, and in a little while they will totter off to take a nap, and then she will cook supper, not a very good supper and they will watch television, each knowing exactly what the other is thinking, until it is time for bed. They may even

have a good, soul-stirring argument, just to prove that they still really care. And through the night they will snore unabashedly, each resting content because the other is there. They are in love, they have always been in love, although sometimes they would have denied it. And because they have been in love they have survived everything that life could throw at them, even their own failures. (Ernest Havemann, Bits & Pieces, June 24, 1993, pp. 7-9.)

One of the greatest mistakes we can make concerning our faith, and the love that faith is founded on, is to believe that once the flames of love in Christ have ignited that faith it will somehow endure without a sustaining effort on our part to provide the fuel, the required stoking and the patience required to take what is spontaneous and make it into something enduring. Campfires require work, a type of work that is different than the work that’s required to get them going in the first place. Campfires survive when they are tended, just like marriages. I held hands with that campfire daily, making sure that it had everything it needed to keep going. As couples we hold hands to sustain a marriage, like that old couple. Our faith in Christ is no different. God provides the spark and the fire of faith is ignited. You and I need to hold God’s hand, however, walking through life with an enduring spirit, keeping the flames of love alive so that our faith will burn brightly even when the storms of life are fiercest and the flames of love are dampened by misfortune and pain. May God grant us the discipline to tend our faith with the patience necessary to keep the flames of love burning brightly, day in and day out.

We pray. Thank you Lord for igniting the love within us for Christ to create a faith that burns brightly. Forgive us Lord, when we take that faith for granted, unwilling to put the work into it to ensure that our love for Christ will endure no matter what the winds of life may bring. Help us Lord to keep our faith in mind daily as a fire that must be tended with love, patience and a spirit of endurance and hope. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!

Therefore my friend, Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry for itself; each day has enough trouble of its own. This Passing Day. (Matt 6:34)

Thank you for tuning into This Passing Day. Join us at May this PASSING day honor our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and be a blessing to you and everyone you meet. Find a stranger and say hello. Don’t let another day pass without your day blessing someone else’s.

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