I just placed the first fire of the year in our wood stove. Forty degrees this morning and a frost warning for tonight. When the cabin thermostat showed fifty-nine, it seemed a solid enough hint.
Looking now across the room, the glass in the wood stove displays beautiful, dancing flames. But the struggle to get that fire started was not an easy one. There were repeated trips to the newspaper stack. A fresh splinter received from the process of tearing kindling from a stubborn, yet well seasoned piece of fire wood. I re-lit and puffed and rearranged the ingredients until finally, the fire had its own life.
First fires are tough. The beauty and warmth they provide are life sustaining.
I find it a similar truth when rekindling my spirit. Prayer and spiritual discipline require steady and determined effort to catch their own life; and now and then, despite myself, I find nothing but ash in my soul. At those times, I have to begin again. I need to attend to my spiritual disciplines.
I no longer despair in times like these--thinking that God has deserted me, or is hiding until I prove myself worthy of a restored flame. No, the truth is simple. Relationships require two or more. And sometimes I'd prefer to be the served master, rather than a responsible partner.
The Psalmist David once said: "Restore to me the joy of my salvation." And then, I assume, he proceeded to his spiritual disciplines.