Wednesday, August 3, 2016


Daily Gratitude Year 4- Day 214: Today, I am grateful for the humble fan and the challenge to "fan into flame".

Since not everyone agrees on air conditioning temperatures and there are times there is no air. I am grateful today for the humble electric fan.  

I remember sleeping upstairs without air in my summers growing up. Well, we tried to sleep. The shade of the tree outside the window of our old farm house helped, but it was still hot.  Really hot.  The fan was our friend.  We kept it moving so both April and I would get a little.  It was a little sweetness at the end of a long day. Especially if the day was spent walking beans (yes...we used to hoe weeds out of the bean rows by hand or knife).

To this day, and the invention of the modern ceiling fan, I still like to sleep with a fan. The flow of air makes everything feel more fresh. 

I am a fan of the humble fan.  When "fashion" dictated the removal of ceiling fans from home decor... we chose to ignore the trend for creature comforts. Fashionable can be foolish. Oh, the joys of reaching an age where you can declare what is fashionable as foolish. There are some benefits to adulthood, right?

The Bible was pre-electricity, but the word "fan" is found. It is from some scripture that is equal parts encouraging and challenging. "Fan is not a word you expect to be Biblical, but the act of fanning is recorded twice, that I could find. "As a blacksmith fans coals into flame to forge a weapon"  (Isaiah 54:16) and a reminder in a letter from Timothy to beloved friends and believers to be be grateful, to pray, to remember our elders, to set fire to the spirit, to be bold, to be loving and self-controled. This is basically a part of his greeting in the second recorded letter of Timothy. 

"I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 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. -2 Timothy 1:3-7

Oh, yes! Equal parts encouragement and challenge. I remember the prayer James "Jim" Elliot penned and Elisabeth shared in "Through Gates of Splendor". I wrote down parts of it, but found little larger excerpt from this powerful piece. It was written his senior year at Wheaton College. These words are from Jim's journal:

“Seems impossible that I am so near my senior year at this place, and truthfully, it hasn’t the glow about it that I rather expected. There is no such thing as attainment in this life; as soon as one arrives at a long-coveted position he only jacks up his desire another notch or so and looks for higher achievement – a process which is ultimately suspended by the intervention of death. Life is truly likened to a rising vapor, coiling, evanescent, shifting.  May the Lord teach us what it means to live in terms of the end.”
“He makes His ministers a flame of fire.  Am I ignitable?  God deliver me from the dread asbestos of ‘other things.’ Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be a flame.  But flame is transient, often short-lived.  Canst thou bear this, my soul – short life? In me there dwells the Spirit of the Great Short-Lived, whose zeal for God’s house consumed Him.  ‘Make me Thy Fuel, Flame of God.’”

“God, I pray thee, light these idle sticks of my life and may I burn for Thee.  Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine.  I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you, Lord Jesus.”
To this day, I get the good kind of chills when I read his words. "Deliver me from the dread asbestos of 'other things'. What a prayer. What a challenge. His prayer is almost prophetic. His death in the jungle of Ecuador with his fellow missionaries marked the end of a shore earthly life, but the outcome was souls saved. They did not die in vain. They sparked a flame that Elisabeth did not let die out. 
"I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you, Lord Jesus." A courageous prayer. He meant it. 
When the movie "Beyond the Gates of Splendor" was launched, some of the native people joined the families of the missionaries on a tour to promote the movie and tell the story. My favorite part was a recorded clip from an event where the Elliot children introduced an old man as "Grandfather". 
He was obviously one of the native tribe who killed his father. What we didn't know...until the older man revealed it... is that he was the one. His arrow killed Jim Elliot. Yet, the missionary children call him grandfather. Their father's murder!  The use of "Grandfather" speaks redemption and respect. It breathes new life and joy where there was once sorrow. Jim and the others did not die in vain.
Forgiveness and love overcome hate. Love always wins.  Fanned into flame...the Spirit always changes hearts. 
Today, I am grateful for the humble fan and the challenge to "fan into flame".

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