“To Build a Fire.”

Isn’t that what we want?

It’s what the Arctic-traipsing narrator of Jack London’s short story wanted. To strike a match against birch-bark. To set a few clumsy sticks ablaze. Desperately he wanted to build that fire to keep himself alive. It was the only way to survive in that seventy-five-below-zero Klondike.

Much like us.

Don’t we at times find ourselves desperate to kindle a flame? Aren’t we frantic to spark a raging appetite for the things of God, the heart of God so that His love, strength, grace, mercy, joy might warm us from a world icy cold? We know, after all, that these things are what keep us alive too.

Yet we falter.

Like London’s man, we cannot finagle that flint. We cannot awaken that spiritual desire because we’ve waited until frostbite has already taken hold. We’ve waited until an aestheticizing kind of panic has set in, until our unfeeling, apathetic spiritual fingers can no longer maneuver to stoke those cinders.

Nevertheless, Psalm 18 offers hope.

In our anguish, in our neglect, even in “distress” of our own making, God does not abandon. He will not leave us, like the author London left his character to the defeat of a frosty grave.

Listen to these words,

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help…Smoke rose from His nostrils; consuming fire came from His mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down…” (Psalm 18:6-9 NIV).

Out of the heavens, He comes. In feverish, enflaming love, He comes.

And not like some three-wish genie from an Arabian lamp. Not like some top-hat magician in a deceptive haze of fireless smoke. No, our God comes furious like a Father rushing to His child’s aid. Undignified and devoted, He comes, running to His beloved prodigal son or daughter to accomplish what we can not do for ourselves.

To build that fire.

To ignite a sweltering, life-transformative spiritual glow. To reawaken a scorching, life-transmuting blaze once again. A fire big enough it can counteract the frostbite, melt any inner coldness and illuminate the heating truth of God’s unrestrained love, compassionate goodness, all-pervasive grace.

Because God rebuilds from the smoke of His own breath. He reawakens from the heat of His own Words that pour forth from “His mouth.”

All we have to do is call.

To cry out in honest helplessness. To turn our eyes in the direction of the One whose essence, whose very presence is “consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). And we have to remain there with hands and hearts outstretched warming over His intimate heat until we’ve thawed and spiritual passion has been renewed.

Once we do, we will all be ready.

Ready again to take on a subzero world. Ready again to move forward and prosper. And ready again to point the way. Because we aren’t the only ones freezing in the bitter cold.

There are others.

And they need that Fire too.


How is God challenging you to return to Him and renew yourself in His presence today? What does it mean to you to know that “our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29)?