Fan the Flame

fan the flameMy wife is from Monterrey, Mexico. I remember the first time her family invited me over to her grandparents’ house for a carne asada (a barbecue). My wife’s brother was in charge of the grilling. I sat and talked to him as he poured the charcoal into the grill. He lit the coals and then walked into the house.

He came out a minute later with a hair dryer in his hands. I watched wondering what he was going to do next. He plugged the hair dryer into a long orange extension cord and then proceeded to blow hot air on the coals.

What happened next was impressive. Within seconds, the coals were ablaze. Within a couple of minutes they were white hot, ready to grill. Contrary to popular opinion, wind doesn’t blow out fire. It feeds it.

I already knew that before my brother-in-law pulled out his hair dryer. When I grilled, though, I would usually blow on the coals until my head got dizzy or fan them in futility with a towel. Now I just pull out my wife’s blow dryer. She’s not too happy about it, but it sure makes grilling a whole lot faster.

Wind doesn’t blow out fire. It feeds it. The Apostle Paul understood that. As he sat in chains, waiting to be executed, he wrote a letter to his protégé, young Pastor Timothy. He encouraged Timothy to “fan into flame” the gift of faith God had given him (2 Timothy 1:6).

Faith is a fire burning in our hearts, but that fire needs to be fed. Fire needs oxygen to survive. Did you know that in Hebrew and Greek, the original languages of the Bible, the word for “spirit” also means “wind”? The Holy Spirit is literally the Holy Wind.

When the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus’ disciples on the day of Pentecost, they heard the sound of a violent wind blow through the house as tongues of fire came to rest on each of them. The Holy Spirit, the Holy Wind, blew into their hearts and fanned the flame of faith. Their hearts still burning, they went out and began to preach the good news of God’s love without fear.

On the day of your Baptism or as you heard the good news about Jesus for the first time, the Holy Spirit lit that fire of faith in you. He now feeds that flame with his Word and Sacraments.

When you hear the good news of how God forgives you for hurting your wife or for that stupid thing you said to your sister – when you hear the good news of how God is with you, of the heaven that is waiting for you, of all that God does for you and through you – it feeds the flame burning in your heart.

But like my former grilling methods, we often don’t fan the flame as well as we could. We go to church sporadically. We skip Sunday School. We rarely read our Bibles at home. The flame in our hearts becomes weak. We aren’t on fire for God.

Don’t just settle for a slight breeze. Pull out your hair dryer! Make the most of every opportunity to go to church. Go to Sunday School. Dust off your Bibles at home. Feed the flame of faith in your heart. Be on fire for your Savior God.


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