Lots of the songs we sing at church petition heaven to “send the fire”, or to “rain down”. I’ve often pondered that we would ask for both, when one would naturally cancel out the other. I’ve been thinking a lot more about the fire songs recently.
So often sung, yet so little evidence that our request has been granted. I have no doubt that on a personal level, many have felt the touch of heaven when singing these songs, but in my experience it tends to be limited and localised.
What would it look like if God suddenly sent fire from heaven to the meeting we were in?
Imagine if the fire fell on the whole room, not just one or two. Imagine being in a place so full of the fire of heaven that the fire brigade was called because of the flames, only to find there was nothing that their water jets could do to put it out. (See testimonies of Azusa Street rival) Imagine what would happen if we really meant some of the words we sing on a Sunday.
My suspicion is that for many who consider this, the first image that appears in their mind is that of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. A totally impossible situation, miraculously consumed by fire. Many died that day, such was the ferocity of the fire that fell from heaven. It is hardly any wonder that many of us are a little cautious about really meaning it when these words come up on the screen. Sure, we sing them, but only because everyone else is. There will be, for some, and often unconsciously a fear in asking God to send fire from heaven.
Some will be afraid for other reasons. Their image is of Acts 2, when Holy Spirit fell and looked like tongues of fire on the heads of those that were in the building at the time. The result of that heavenly fire was power, authority, supernatural gifts and the Presence of God living inside of each of them. That made a difference to their lives. Things could no longer go on as they had. They had to change. If we are honest, there are few of us that really relish that sort of change in our lives.
Others still will be afraid that He won’t send the fire as we have asked – at least not to them. They are quite happy with realising that fire will fall on others, but they don’t expect it to happen to them.
The sort of experience we expect depends largely on how we view God, and our understanding of our own identity now we are in Christ. If we see ourselves as servants, we will do things out of a sense of duty. There will be a constant fear of failure, punishment and that “the Master” might be watching. We try to remain inconspicuous by following the rules (often man made ones) and ticking boxes. We don’t want to put ourselves in a position to fail, so we do as little as possible. Every now and again we will offer to help out a little more, just to make up extra credit. Our impression of fire falling from heaven would only be as way of punishment and we’d rather not thank you very much.
If we fully grasp that we are adopted into the family, that we are sons and daughters of the living God, we operate out of relationship and love. We are aware of our inheritance, and that we have access to it now. We live in the assurance that our Father is good and we feel comfortable in His presence. Our impression will be more of Acts 2 – yes there will be some trembling, the house might shake a bit, but the knowledge of His presence throughout the situation makes all that seem insignificant. We will be desperate for more.
There is always something that is destroyed when fire comes. When we experience the fire of Holy Spirit, there is less room for things that are not of Him. The more we hunger after heaven, the more heaven we will experience. The Father will never force His way in though. Heaven is attracted to hunger, but will never force feed us.
A friend recently reminded me of a conversation that happened in the Narnia books of C.S. Lewis. When talking of Aslan,the children were told, “Safe, no, he isn’t safe – BUT, he is good.” The same is true of our Father in heaven. When He comes, we will inevitably be taken out of our comfort zone. We can’t experience Him and stay the same. It will almost certainly be uncomfortable.
It will absolutely be worth it.