Fan into Flame


Glory

Fan into flame the gift of God.

A few months ago I stopped by the church office like it was the emergency room. I felt like I was having earthquakes inside myself. That was just the burritos, right? No. No, I know a good burrito. These rumblings were God calling. It was an unsettling settlement. There was no one to tell me if I’m crazy for this or not. I asked when the next elder meeting was, and an elder happened to be there. He told me to come, and they would pray.

It was pitch black out when I arrived at a strange time, like maybe 8:20, and when I knocked on the door, one let me in and had me sit in the formal living room while he joined back with the others. I waited there and could hear their voices in gentle pleading to God, the original sound man and of us all: authority, strength, and wisdom. By the time they called me in, I was nervous. I knew that if they had concerns about my being in ministry, they would certainly say so. They know me and love me enough to speak.

After some questions, they sat me on an ottoman, and they had me surrounded. I was aware how I am woman and what it is that God has asked me to do. Lap wet with my own tears, bowed head, I’ve been hurt at the hands of men, and now these strong hands were on my shoulders and back, knees, feet, and head, and they blessed me in the  sweetest name of Jesus. They blessed my ministry, my writing, and my speaking. They blessed my body and my mind.

After that, I was doing as well as I had ever done. Such a Peter, I’ll do anything for you, Jesus. I am capable! Whew! Come hail or high water, come Creek or LORD’s will, I thought I would never deny Him. But then the rooster crowed, and I knew it had been done.

My giftings had suddenly begun to terrify me, how I write and talk out the GOSPEL, my own testimony of my LORD Jesus. I decided fairly quickly after finishing my book proposal that I wished for a different story.  Then I began to welcome our moving boxes. I packed up my journals, pens, notebooks, all the poetry, my Annie Dillard and Beth Ann Fennelly. I packed it all up and put it in a storage unit across town. Seth still held on, but I wouldn’t let him read poetry aloud. My Bible may have been in a stack of bills.

I didn’t want to hear the voice of God,

but then I heard laughter down there in the dark belly of the fish.

To write for Jesus is to say that I’ll open like purest centerfold, like an iris where the dust of story goes flying about as if to make more flowers. Like Mary, seed growing and me here, the spectacle. What will become of me if I write what I know? These prophetic imaginations? That there is thunder, atonement, and grace? I think I’ll die. That’s it. If I write, I think I’ll die. At the very least, I’ll suffer.

“For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our LORD, nor of me His prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:6-8).

Do you see it there? Stop and consider. If the gift is ablaze, there will be suffering in it, but it will be full of power and love, and oh wait, self control. The gift can be put out or I can press into the wind until the sky’s on fire. My choice.

Now I know.

I neglected you too long, Jesus, my muse, the music. I haven’t danced or looked deep into paint or a tree. I haven’t done what I was made to do. I didn’t want to hear you, so I stopped enjoying you, and so I almost lost my heart, myself.

Now when Seth reads me one of those good, rare poems, I’ll rise up into it and at some point lose sense of words, but I’ll understand. I was made for this, how I commune with God. I’m like a full note carried out on a voice for many measures, like a floating seed in full faith that where I’ll land is where I’m supposed to plant.

I am only beautiful on the inside when I’m burning. If there is to be a suffering, let it be for eternal things.

 

amberhaines
About me

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21 Comments

Sarah Mae
Reply August 28, 2013

Beautiful.

karen
Reply August 28, 2013

oh, I could cry at this: "I’m like a full note carried out on a voice for many measures, like a floating seed in full faith that where I’ll land is where I’m supposed to plant." Let it be.

Sarah
Reply August 28, 2013

Amen.

Alia Joy
Reply August 28, 2013

I am only beautiful on the inside when I’m burning. If there is to be a suffering, let it be for eternal things. <--Yes. So glad you're back. I've missed your words.

Fiona
Reply August 28, 2013

Stunning.

Your words matter.

Don Sartain
Reply August 28, 2013

Oh, Amber...how I resonate with this. More than I want to admit.

Thank you, friend.

Donna
Reply August 28, 2013

Wow... maybe you've been storing up kindling and firewood during your hard summer. Because girl, this burning is beautiful!

Amber
Reply August 28, 2013

Amber, first of all I gotta say, I LOVE the name. :) I felt like I was writing thing this post. I am a wife, mommy, blogger who has been "in the belly of a whale" for months! I have missed the joy of the LORD, and your post REALLY encouraged me. "I haven't done what I've been made to do." I know the feeling, it's hard to "get back" after discouragement, but you've inspired me to fan into flame the gift God has placed inside of me. After all it is said when you refresh others, you yourself will get refreshed. Thanks for your honesty!

Jo
Reply August 28, 2013

I'm reading this at the DMV , crying over what Amber writes, just like old times. I am never not moved when I come read you here. And the book? I'm just so glad for the story you've been given and the gift to write it, too. Xoxo

Mollie
Reply August 28, 2013

A destined writer.

"I imposed it on myself like a vow made in war: I would write it or die. Or as Rilke had said: 'if you think you are capable of living without writing, do not write.'"
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Thank you for your obedient heart - writing the fragile truth.

HisFireFly
Reply August 29, 2013

yes, this!
I too have surrendered to the burning

Melinda Viergever Inman
Reply August 29, 2013

Amen, Amber! I've been hunched over that text, huddled away from the world in my own crash and burn. The flame must be fanned, the embers must be kindled. We can entrust ourselves - all of us, our hopes, our dreams, our selves, our fears - into the hands of the One who made us and who saves us. We will suffer, you are right. But we have a Savior, Redeemer, and Deliverer. He must be drawing his poets and prophets near to himself, because many of us are writing about this now and seeing the same things. He is first. He is the One. Ours is to follow hard after him, to passionately love him, to do what he has given us to do. But the outcome is his. Even if we sit in a prison cell as Paul did when he penned those words. God bless you, sister!

Diana Trautwein
Reply August 29, 2013

Ah, but this is a beautiful blaze that does not consume so much as purify and strengthen. As hard and sometimes slimy as it is, those times in the whale-belly are formative and important. But I'm thrilled that you're stepping out on Ninevah's shore and I wait expectantly to hear you preach, knowing that those who hear will discover God's grace and forgiveness. They (and you) will be changed. And that, after all is said and done, is the point. Thank you for listening and responding, lovely full-noted woman. I can hear the sound clear over here on the west coast.

Rachael
Reply August 29, 2013

Amen, Amber, Amen and Amen! Some days I think I am nuts and this God thing and this hearing His voice...is it real? But I can't deny it long, the fire burns when I surrender my day, open His Word, and let His heart connect with mine! You are such an encouragement and kindler of the flames.

Becca
Reply August 29, 2013

good gracious but I love this.

Linda
Reply August 29, 2013

I am so thankful you are back. Love to you precious girl.

Quiet Girl
Reply August 29, 2013

Amen.

Cathy
Reply August 30, 2013

You burn... and I am kindled. Let the fear be burned away, and all praise to Jesus and His consuming love flame up!
Thank you!!!

Bomi
Reply September 20, 2013

Amen. Thank you ~

Bomi
Reply September 20, 2013

Amen. Thank you for sharing :)

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