When stoking the fire means closing the window.

In typical morning breakfast fashion, I whisk the raw eggs in a bowl and pour them into the pan hot with melted butter. My dad taught me how to cook scrambled eggs perfectly, turning the heat down and moving the spatula back and forth slowly the whole time the eggs are cooking. I always think about my dad when I make scrambled eggs. I enjoy the habitual way I make the eggs. It’s a small ritual that brings me comfort. It’s always a satisfying feeling to dump the eggs out onto the plate, cooked just right, never over-cooked. I think about my Gramma, who made the best “dippy eggs” I ever had as a child. I think about how small, seemingly insignificant objects, like eggs, can have meaning in a person’s life and bring about such strong memories.

I bring my thoughts back to the present and notice that the eggs aren’t cooking. Did the flame not light? I bend down and look under the pan. The fire is glowing red and blue on the highest setting. Hmmm. The breeze from the dining room window lands on my cheek in the kitchen. Ah. It must be the wind. I close the window reluctantly, considering it’s probably almost 90 degrees in our house in the middle of a Taiwan summer. I return to the eggs and they have started cooking now that the fire has settled down beneath them. I cook them just right and enjoy the crackle of the pink Himalayan salt as it lands on the top of the eggs. I love this salt. Nepal is one of my favorite places in the world. The Himalayan mountains make up a majority of my favorite memories from high school with my family. The salt makes me happy.

Yesterday, I was making eggs again, and I asked one of our sons to close the window, the wind hindering the eggs cooking again. It’s annoying. I mentioned it to Clive, my husband, and he said, “Yeah because of the direction of the wind.” The wind doesn’t just cross directly through the dining room and living room out the back door onto the balcony. It also comes in sideways at just the right angle to affect the flame. And I was struck in that moment. Now I am thinking about fire and wind and the closing of windows.

Why won’t the eggs cook? We stand there confused, moving the spatula around the soupy eggs with no sign of the eggs actually scrambling. We try so dang hard to cook the eggs with that window still open. Surely, they will eventually cook. Because flames cook things, even if it takes awhile. Most of the time, we don’t even know it’s the open window that is the problem. It’s not directly in front of us. The breeze is at our back and we aren’t paying attention. The reason doesn’t necessarily even really matter to us. We aren’t thinking about it. We aren’t curious. We aren’t aware enough to wonder what is hindering this flame. That would take too much work. As long as the eggs get cooked and we can eat, we can just ignore the reason. Until the next time. And the next time. And we get fed up and decide it’s time to get to the bottom of this perpetually annoying issue.

I am thinking now about what windows need to be closed in our lives that will get to the root issue of our fading or erratic flame. Why is our spiritual fire so dim? Where did the fire even go? We thought our fire was just fine, but we don’t feel it burning recently. So often we look directly at the flame of our spirit and just can’t figure it out. We wonder what more we could do. We wonder what more God could do. We wonder where God is. But what if right now we need to look outside of the internal flame and look at what we are letting in that could be affecting the fire. Closing the window stops the wind from getting to the flame. Such a simple action has such an immediate and profound effect on the flame. What windows in my life do I need to close that are affecting the flame of the Holy Spirit? That are affecting my soul’s ability to stoke the spiritual flame inside of me? That are keeping the flame from even being lit up at all? I’m amazed at the effect an invisible breeze has on a seemingly strong flame. It just won’t cook. What are the invisible sources and forces in our lives that are directed right at our little persistent and struggling flame? If we name them, we can shut them out. By the power of the One that lit our flame and keeps it stoked and burning.

Wind can blow a flame sideways and waste the fuel. The flame is burning but it’s not cooking. It’s burning but it’s not being utilized. It’s burning but it’s burning in the wrong direction. It’s burning but it’s heat isn’t reaching its intended target. It’s burning but it’s erratic and potentially dangerous. It’s burning but it’s being hindered from burning the way it was created to. Praise God, the flame hasn’t been snuffed out…of any of us. It’s there and it has a purpose and it’s life-giving and can ignite in us so much more than we can imagine. I want to stop and ask God what windows have been let open that are bringing in a wind that needs to be blocked out, sent away, so that my flame can grow and stabilize and point in the one direction that it was always intended to. This requires self-reflection. Once we do that, maybe all we will need to do is walk over and shut the window.

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