Kenneth Crawford, MA, is a retired pastor, administrator, and author residing in College Place, Washington, United States.

One morning, I awoke well before sunrise, rushed out the door, and was at my seven o’clock Rotary meeting on time. By eight-thirty, I was involved in discussing fundraising techniques at the office. By nine o’clock, I had switched to a counseling ap--pointment then finished the morning by fielding numerous phone calls, answering emails, sending memos, and working through a family health crisis with a parishioner. After eating a quick brown-bag lunch with my head elder at the office, I was off to visit an overwrought husband who wanted some spiritual counsel. I dropped by the hospital for two visits and then rushed home to prepare a quick and quiet supper for my wife. Just as I was about to light the romantic candles, she called and stated that she had her own crises at work, so I ate alone.

I returned to the church in the evening for more meetings then went home again to try to get some last-minute conversations in from the calls on the answering machine that needed to be returned. Sermon preparation time was pushed to another day. I kissed my neglected wife good night and fell asleep, wondering what I had accomplished.

The way life was meant to be

In the rush and chaos of our lives, how do we sort out the important from the urgent? Do you ever get the feeling some things of infinite value are getting neglected just because of the way we do life? Is this reality, the way life was meant to be lived for a pastor? When David sang that beautiful song in Psalm 37:3, “Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness” (NKJV), did it have to be at a dead run? When he wrote that, he was probably leaning against a tree, watching sheep graze and composing on his lyre. That sounds more like the life he was singing about.

Let me give you a glimpse into another morning last fall—a different day, a different setting.

No divine act of intervention, no Savior of my soul is going to do what I must do myself. I am solely responsible for the act of reaching out for the heart of God.

The chill of autumn was in the air as I stepped outside, and the low clouds told of an approaching weather front. I gathered a load of wood from the stack not far from the corner of the cabin and filled the wood box. Then, I built a fire against the chill. I laid the kindling in the cold gray ashes of yesterday’s fire. Yesterday’s flame carried no lingering warmth for me in the present and certainly not the future, so I started again to rebuild my flame of warmth.

Eventually, the small fire crackled and spit, and the cabin filled with the sweet, pungent odor of burning wood. Soon, a clean, fresh warmth was seeping through the cabin, dispelling the chill of dawn.

Solely responsible

Building a new fire is an act of pure magic that I never cease to marvel at. As I built this physical fire, I realized the significance of rekindling my own inner flame. I am the keeper of my own flame of spirituality. No one is going to step to the forefront to plan my priorities, to arrange my life and my schedule. No divine act of intervention, no Savior of my soul is going to do what I must do myself. I am solely responsible for the act of reaching out for the heart of God. He waits with infinite patience for those moments when I rekindle the flame and stretch forth my hand to touch His.

Today, amid the urgent, I will be the keeper of my own flame.


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Kenneth Crawford, MA, is a retired pastor, administrator, and author residing in College Place, Washington, United States.

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