You go on a retreat and you burn.
A distant God suddenly feels like your next door neighbor.
He’s close, the miles between you closed in a single bound.
You want to shout from the bow of a ship, but that joke’s already been done too many times.
Instead you sing and you laugh and you cry and you burn.
You are convinced this time the fire will be forever. The light will not go out. The heat will not fade.
But then Monday sinks its teeth into your retreat reality.
And the shine of your Jesus moment begins to fade a little.
Things go quiet. God’s love doesn’t feel like a waterfall or rain or whatever other liquid metaphor we Christians love so much. It feels like an idea on a piece of paper, not a heartbeat inside your own heart.
It must be you. Everyone else must surely still be on fire. What kind of loser can’t hold onto a God moment for more than 3 days after a retreat or a great sermon? And you call yourself a Christian? You’ll never be good enough to be a “real Christian.”
That is a lie.
That is the voice of condemnation, not the voice of God.
Faith is more than a fire.
Sometimes it is embers. Sometimes the night is so dark and so long that the quiet glow of three coals is all you have in the corner of a room that feels like a cage.
Anxiety, frustration, doubt, they will rage.
They will beat against the shore of your heart, forever trying to quench your flame.
Somedays there will be fire. It will blaze into the night sky, rivaling the stars in their celestial homes.
Other days? You will glow, not burn. The fire is not out, the firestarter is not gone.
But faith is more than fire. And if you can’t feel yours right now, don’t give in to doubt.
Come closer to the glow, no matter how small it feels. Stand closer to the flicker. Crowd around the one small spark if that’s all you got.
Listen for his whisper. For though we want his love to always rage like a furious hurricane, often it is a whisper.
Listen for his whisper.