Nothing. I had nothing.
The days on the calendar were all crossed off, and I still didn’t know which way to go.
On December 31, 2016, I sat in the back-left corner of the church sanctuary next to my husband wondering what the year ahead might bring. I’d tried to keep my ears perked up for a word from the Lord.
God had spoken so clearly every year before.
- To start 2012, He told me to stand tall and proclaim, “Ain’t nobody gonna steal my joy.” (Little did I know that I’d spend most of that summer in the fetal position fighting for my life in the shadows.)
- The following year, God gave me a one-word theme: Fruitilicious. I longed to live a vibrant life–one that produced bright, tasty, juicy morsels to share and help sustain life in others.
- My husband prophetically predicted that stormy seas were sure to follow in 2014 when the Lord anchored me with the phrase: Hold Fast.
- I was scrolling on Instagram in 2015 when I saw a potato sack pillow sitting on a friend’s couch. The phrase imprinted across the front in black letters jumped off the page and into my heart. I vowed to Pray Big with expectation until God moved my mountains.
- Last year, God invited me to Choose Rest, rather than feel frazzled and fatigued.
Each year, the Lord had impressed upon me a theme to shape my thinking, but as 2016 faded into black, I lacked direction.
As I sat quietly waiting for the New Year’s Eve concert to start, I looked up to heaven and said a simple prayer:
Speak to me, Lord.
I spent the night worshiping with hands and heart uplifted as Phil Wickham sang like an angel on the stage. And as the clock turned to 12:15 AM, he closed the concert with a song titled “Wide Awake.”
Through the veil, we have come.
You’ve paid the price, a sacrifice, of flesh and blood.
Hearts ablaze, drawing close,
The holy place now invades the human soul.
Wide awake, unashamed, in Your light
By Your grace, boldly running to Your side,
Captivated, oh I am taken by everything You are.
I want to be closer and closer and closer to Your heart.
I spent January 1st looking up verses on “fire” in my concordance.
- “I say, ‘I will not mention Him, or speak any more in His name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in,and I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:9).
- “Is not My word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rocks in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29)
- “…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3:16)
- “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49)
- “And divided tongues of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them…” (Acts 2:3)
- “Never let the fire go out in your heart…” (Romans 12:11)
- “He makes His messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire.” (Hebrews 1:7)
- “…let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:29)
I scrawled a few words on a slip of paper: fuel, ignite, kindle, spark.
Then, I tried to talk myself out of it. How am I supposed to write about living with a fiery heart when I struggle to stay awake every morning with my Bible in my lap?
But, God has a way of repeating Himself once He starts speaking, and this January He turned the volume button up to high. It started in my kitchen the very next evening. As Phil Wickham’s voice still echoed in my head, I opened up to the last 3 entries of Ann Voskamp’s Advent devotional for children. We’d unwrapped the greatest gift a little too slowly in December, so we were still reading in January.
And when people see that it’s all about Jesus, this is what they whisper: ‘Wasn’t it like our hearts were on fire right inside of us?’ (Luke 24:32). Can you see it? This day, this night, Light comes! Can you feel it? Your heart kindling, burning with a love for Jesus that’s like a warming fire… When you’re just one of the raggedy manger stragglers who comes with nothing but your raggedy heart to Jesus, when you lean close over Jesus in that manger and you see His blazing glory, when you come close to His white-hot love for you–how can you not scramble right out of the manger and right into the world with a heart glowing like hot embers of love for Jesus, telling everyone about the love of Jesus? A heart that really loves Jesus could catch the world on fire with love and more love and more love.”
Yep, God wanted to set my heart on fire. Except I was too scared to step close to the flame.
Sure, I confessed to a few friends that my word for the year was “Ablaze,” and I even made a fiery graphic for it. But, my fingers grew ice cold whenever I thought about writing about it.
Rather than fueling my faith, I spent weeks fighting fear.
- I can’t write about that. It’s trite and will come across like a 4th grader’s homework assignment.
- I don’t want people to think I’m a crazy fanatic or a narcissist or a pyromaniac.
- The three or four people who currently read my blog won’t care if stay away from this topic entirely.
- Maybe God just wants me to pray about this, but not actually cut open my vein and bleed words all over the internet.
But, God was gentle with me. He continued to whisper quietly. I look back now and read my own words here on February 8th where I encouraged you to give God due diligence:
Fuel your faith with ARDOR and zeal: Fan the flames of your faith daily and continue growing in your reverence for God. Stamp out any flickers of doubt and apathy.
I really need to listen to my own advice. But I am slow to learn. I hate change. So I quenched the Spirit and showered unbelief all over the altar of my heart.
On February 20th, I opened up my Bible to Chapter 9 of the book of Leviticus and read:
Then fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.
I realized that morning that I can either present a pleasing sacrifice to the Lord, or I can make excuses and grow cold.
I can either present a pleasing sacrifice to the Lord, or I can make excuses and grow cold.
I want to keep His holy fire burning brightly in my heart.
I’m excited (and a little terrified) today to introduce you to my beautiful new writing home where I hope to provide you Fuel for a Wildfire Faith.
My original plan for this blog re-design was completely different, but then I revisited Romans 12 and sparks flew off the page:
My prayer is for the stories I share in this space to encourage you with #FaithFuel to
- LOVE DEEP: Fervently extend God’s kindness and grace to pesky people.
- PRAY BIG: Go down fighting on our knees together with fire in our bones.
- HOPE FULL: Stay tethered to a confident expectation in heaven that keeps us moving forward.
- STAND STRONG: Rest confidently on God’s promises to empower us to overcome every obstacle.
On Fridays, we’ll share how God is igniting a burning passion in our hearts at our new community link-up for bloggers #FaithonFire.
Are you ready to fire up your faith?
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Have you written something challenging, encouraging, or inspiring lately? Link it up here! For best results, write the title of your post in the name box. 🙂
As a courtesy, please link back to LyliDunbar.com in your post. Grab and share the #FaithOnFire button to spread the word. Use the hashtag #FaithOnFire to share your post and connect on Twitter.
Check back later to see what other GREAT posts have been linked up and find #FaithFuel for your soul. Visit the post immediately before yours and leave an encouraging comment.
I’m finding #FaithFuel at the #FaithonFire #LinkUp. Come share your burning passion with @LyliDunbar & friends!