There are a million distractions today to keep us from accomplishing whatever we set our minds on doing so unless we are driven by a fire within our lives will be a series of things started but never completed. How many resolutions, goals, or even good intentions to change in the coming year about this time find the flame waning? Unless we are constantly taking a stand against the fire fighters of doubt, discouragement, and laziness, we’ll soon find the flame fades and is soon out.
Vince Lombardi, the famous NFL coach may have said, “fatigue makes cowards of us all.” What coach Lombardi was advocating was to take a stand against the thief or “firefighter” called fatigue, otherwise you’ll cowardly give in to the wimpy desire to quit or procrastinate. The only way to fight against the “firefighter” is to stoke the fire. Coach Lombardi stoked the fire of his players through rigid training which gave his players great confidence to fight off the thief of fatigue.
Likewise, we see Jeremiah the prophet relying upon a “stoked fire” which God gave him to fight off the thief of a quitter’s attitude.
Jeremiah 20:9 (ESV) — 9 If 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 is a prophet who spoke the word of God with great boldness and, because of telling the people things they did not want to hear, was beaten, put into chains, and made to be the laughingstock of everyone. Therefore, Jeremiah contemplated giving up and quitting. It would be like when procrastination makes us put off what we know we should do and contemplate just giving into an easier way of life.
The result was that Jeremiah went back to the fire within, a fire placed there and now stoked by God. And the result? He became weary with putting off doing what he knew he should be doing. What a great lesson!
Having trouble with the thief called fatigue or procrastination? Go back and review the reason you were driven to make the decision to do what you are doing in the first place. Having trouble going through with the exercise plan and find procrastination stealing your time away, dousing the flame within? Go back to the fire that made you decide in the first place. Putting off writing that resume? Go back to the fire of the decision that is making you look for a new job. Or are you having trouble following through on your commitments to God, to His church, or His service? Go back to the fire, the first love, His call upon your life.
Notice as Jeremiah considered this fire from God, he acknowledged that his lack of doing what he should was creating inward pressure like trying to shut up a fire in his bones and he became weary in holding it in. Oh, that the fire within us may make us weary of procrastination. When we get sick and tired of being sick and tired of the situation that procrastination gets us in, then we’ll do something.
Firefighers vs. Firelighters
As we talk about the “fire within” that causes us to set the goal, follow the plan, and make the change – whatever it is, there are those things in life that fan the flame which we might call “firelighters” and those things which douse the flame, which we might call “firefighters.” In order to keep the fire burning hot, you’ll need to associate with the firelighters and avoid the firefighters.
Firelighters can be the things that ignite the fire in the beginning. Maybe it’s an article, a word from the doctor, maybe it’s the financial need you have to change your job, or a sermon to which you listened as God spoke to you through His word. It could even be a friend who believes in you enough to encourage you in the endeavor at which you set out to make a change. Firelighters ignite and encourage the flame to grow.
Firefighters on the other hand are those people, events, beliefs, or habits that douse the flame, encourage doubts, discouragement, and disbelief. Firefighters need to be avoided at all cost.
Whenever the firefighters in our life pop up, and you know they will, then immediate action is needed to connect with a firelighter to fan the smoldering ember to bring back the flame.
One good description of a firelighter application over a firefighter is the act of daily discipline or working our way through what needs to be done in our lives which is a way of stoking the fire and letting it out.
1 Corinthians 9:24–27 (ESV) — 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
The application then is to fight the firefighters of laziness, seeking comfort, neglect, and discouragement by having a plan of daily activities that will help you reinforce good habits to take you to your goal.
May the fire within keep you going in the coming year.