One of my all-time favorite childhood activities in the mountains was starting the nightly campfire. It’s no secret that all children are closet pyromaniacs. Something about kids and fire just goes hand in hand. Fire is mesmerizing, to say the least, and it begs to be played with, poked at, and stared at until someone yells, “Stop playing with the fire! You’re going to burn yourself, Jarrid!”
But I couldn’t help it. It was fire, one of God’s greatest creations (next to morning cartoons!). I was ten, and starting the family fire was a duty of honor. Getting to do so was almost a spiritual experience.
Lighting the fire was an art, and I loved every step of the process. I’d always start with some tiny wood shavings, stack a few logs on top of one another, and then add a small piece of paper to the bottom to finish it off. I’d imagine that my family was stranded in the middle of a desolate forest, cold and hungry, and for some reason I was the only one capable of igniting the flames that would bring us comfort. Not only was the fire going to bring our family warmth for the night, but it was also the way we would bring light to our campsite. And some nights, it’s how we would even cook our food. It was a necessity.
In order to keep the fire roaring, I would find myself constantly adding more wood. Every twenty or thirty minutes, I’d add one log and then another and then another until we all decided it was time to head to bed. But even then, some nights we’d take turns adding logs overnight to keep the bears away. We were adding fuel to the fire in order to keep the fire alive.
Just as we cannot rely on old logs to keep the fire burning, we also cannot rely on the faith of yesterday to keep our relationship with God flourishing today. And, as I heard an old preacher once say, we “can’t ride the coattails of our father’s faith.” Keeping our passion alive for God is something that we have to choose to do each and every day. God’s love is always available, but if we don’t find ourselves constantly receiving that love and if we don’t keep going back for more, our unique and beautiful relationship with God will diminish to embers, ceasing to produce anything of value.
That’s not a place any of us should want to be in, especially as people commissioned with the incredible task of sharing the gospel with all nations and all people. God has provided us with everything we need to keep our faith in him active and vibrant, but we have to make the decision to receive it and apply it. I think we’d all be surprised to know how many people are handed God’s wisdom and guidance but don’t utilize it.
We must always be on the lookout to add more nourishment to the fire pits that are our spiritual lives. God’s love fuels not only our own spiritual lives but also everything we do to love others and make a difference in the world for Jesus’ sake. It’s like the great John Wesley once said, “Get on fire for God and men will come and see you burn.” And that’s exactly what we’re called to do. Without our hearts ablaze in faith, we’re no good to the cause of Christ. Without our souls on fire with love, we’re nothing more than darkness. And that’s exactly where Satan wants us to be. We cannot do anything in our own love, because our own love isn’t really love at all. Only through the power and fuel of God’s love can we make a difference in this world.
But what does adding fuel to the fire of your faith really look like? Well, the best way I can think of putting it is that the relationship you have with God should be like a flourishing and vibrant marriage. Your relationship with God is single-handedly the most important relationship you will ever find yourself in. You should take it very seriously, and you can’t afford to drift away. You must do everything you can to make sure your relationship with God stays healthy, fiery, and passionate. Because if not, your relationship with God will just become a statistic—you’ll just be another Christian going through life with no real purpose or meaning. But keeping the fire going is easier than you may think.
In January of 2014, I wrote a blog post titled “I’m Dating Someone Even Though I’m Married.”[i] Yes, the title may have seemed a bit crazy. But it was the best way I could think of to stress the conviction I felt to pursue my wife as I did when we were dating. I wanted to regain and deepen that spark, passion, and desire. I wanted to go back to that feeling of butterflies in my stomach, the nervousness that made my palms sweat. I had unintentionally lost it. The reason for writing the post was hard for me to admit, but it was something I needed to say—and something that a lot of couples needed to hear.
My wife and I realized that the daily routine of marriage can set in pretty quickly, and if you’re not careful, that exciting and new relationship can accidentally get put on the back burner, while work and other things are made more of a priority. That’s where I was. And it wasn’t at all on purpose. Nobody sets out to do this when he or she gets married. My way of showing my wife I loved her had become working hard and providing for her financially. Those are both really good things. But I’d become so focused on them that I’d stopped pursuing her heart in the ways she desired. I stopped doing all the awesome things I once did when we were dating and engaged.
The things that showed her I was willing to go out of my way to express my love for her. She yearned for me to pursue her, because it showed her that I was still interested in who she was, even though we were already married. That I was choosing her over and over again despite the fact that we already had rings on our fingers. I quickly realized how important it is to constantly invest in my relationship with my wife, regardless of how long we’ve been together. That I can’t just rely on the actions and words and intimacy of yesterday to fulfill what needs to be done today. The pursuit should never end.
That seems like a pretty obvious statement, but you’d be surprised how many couples needed to confront this truth head-on as much as I did.
What I said struck a chord. Millions of people read the post and really resonated with the idea of relentlessly pursuing their spouse. In fact, the post gained so much exposure that it was featured on numerous news stations and media outlets, and Juli and I were even flown in as guests for Steve Harvey’s daytime TV show. It was a pretty surreal experience. I think the words resonated with so many because deep down we all want to be loved and pursued.
The idea of pursuing your spouse should be in the forefront of your mind. Why? Because you’ll never learn enough about the person you are with. There is always more to learn, more to experience, and more to adventure with each other.
And the same is true for a relationship with God. See where I’m going with this? The similarities are quite extraordinary. We must live in constant pursuit of our God, constantly longing to know and love him more, so that we may then fuel our own lives with his love, truly loving him and loving others. It comes full circle.
God relentlessly pursues you every day, and he deserves the same in return. Pursuing God’s love isn’t a “have to”; it’s a “get to.” It’s an undeserved blessing. Discovering the wonder of God’s love isn’t a one-time affair but instead a daily process. And the daily pursuit of God can come in many shapes and forms. Prayer, worship, servanthood, and studying God’s Word are all ways to pursue God’s heart and find rest in his love.
Doing these things in selflessness and humility is the key to engaging in a fruitful relationship with Christ. All of God’s most influential and righteous followers were all those who relentlessly pursued him. Yes, they may have all had some hiccups along the way, but the pursuit nonetheless defined their lives. Only the man or women who chases after God will come to actually know him and dwell with him and not just be a spectator.
God deserves our relentless pursuit: a pursuit that jumps hurdles and goes above and beyond. We must live in a posture of yearning for the love and righteousness of God as if it were the first time we’d ever taken notice of it. The fire that is our relationship with God must be fueled daily and kept roaring so that no matter what obstacles we face in life, God’s love will propel us forward.
[i] Jarrid Wilson, January 6, 2014, “I’m Dating Someone Even Though I’m Married,” Jarrid Wilson, http://jarridwilson.com/im-dating-someone-even-though-im-married/.
From Love Is Oxygen: How God Can Give You Life and Change Your World by Jarrid Wilson
Love. It’s that thing everyone talks about but very few will ever truly put into action. It’s the fuel with which we are called to live, and it’s the very reason Jesus’ body was brutally broken upon that splintered cross. It’s unbeatable, unrestricted, and hands down the greatest attribute of God. It will transform the way you see life, and it will radically invade the way you see others. The question is, have you discovered and harnessed it the way God intended?
In Love Is Oxygen, you will engage with the reality of God’s love as something you can know and personally experience. This love transcends fear and circumstances, and it pushes us into places we never imagined. After all, living God’s love is like breathing—it gives life as we breathe it in . . . and then we can’t help but breathe it out to the people around us.