On some long ago camping trip to the pine forests of east Texas, my father taught me the mechanics of building a fire. Raised in the woods and meadows of New England, he has a deep respect for the land, and shared with me his delight in the crisp morning air that always welcomes a well-built fire.
I watched in fascination as he gathered twigs and dry grass for the blaze that was soon to be. There was thought and experience behind each movement: the tenting of the combustibles; the gathering of the larger fuel; the attentiveness to wind speed and direction. I knew before the age of 4 that building a sustainable fire requires planning, preparation, and observation.
I think of those long-ago lessons often these days, particularly as I bow in prayer for the success of the revival fires now springing up among God’s people. I am careful not to pray for just any kind of burning. I do not ask the Lord for lightning strikes to set the land ablaze. Charred stumps and burned-over districts testify to the wastefulness of unplanned and unattended blazes. No, instead I plead for sustainable fires that warm and brighten, gathering places from which a watching world draws comfort, light, and encouragement.
Even as a child I grasped the importance of consolidating the combustibles that keep the fire fueled. Stray twigs and bits of straw may flame with momentary brilliance, but soon are spent, a blackened witness to what might have been. Pushed—or better yet, pressed—together, one fiery branch ignites another, and then another, each adding to a blaze so many times the size it might have individually produced.
The principle holds true when revival fires spring up in what Elton Trueblood once called “the incendiary fellowship”—this body of believers God has called into His remnant church. Apart from each other, we may flare with bright but temporary light. But pressed together—consciously collected for the Spirit’s fiery purposes—the personal revival that God is now bringing to hundreds of individuals will soon become that great and general revival for which we’ve all been praying.
“Press together, press together, press together,” Ellen White reminded us more than a century ago. “Do not let Satan cast his hellish shadow between brethren. Press together; in unity there is strength.”1
So step closer to the fire, my friends. Decide to be part of the new Pentecost God is now lighting among His people. The heart you find on fire will surely be your own.
1 Ellen G. White, The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 904.