The difference between burning and burning out

I learned something today. I imagine that a host of you might scoff that I did not know this before, but I am honestly happy to at least have learned it now.

Last year, after teaching through the book of Revelation, I became quite intrigued with the lampstand. Jesus walks among them; they “are” the church; the lampstand may be removed… And the idea of the church burning with light that is not its own but fueled by the oil of the Holy Spirit… all these mystical, analogous, yet very real and powerful things left an impression on me.

Today I decided I wanted to try and “light” the lampstand and display it during our all-day prayer meeting. You can’t fit candles in there – and I knew it was supposed to be oil… so I bought a wick, cut it in pieces and placed them in the lamp. I filled the cups with oil and lit the wicks.

Here was my personal “ah ha” today: fire destroys the wick. The wick will burn up, quickly, when set aflame. But… BUT if that wick can soak up the oil, it ceases to burn up, and just burns. The oil burns, but the wick just hosts the flame. The wick becomes the conduit for the oil. The wick can burn bright and pure as long as there is oil running through it. Without a supply of oil, the wick burns out. With fresh oil, it just burns continually.

Wow. There is no substitute for oil. There Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary and totally sufficient. Oil-less effort, personality, will-power, busy-ness, self-reliance, ego, the flesh… all of it will burn into ash. It cannot host the flame. But as we receive and rely (totally) upon the oil of the Spirit, we become conduits of the oil; we host His fire. We burn, but we will not burn out.

Thanks for reading,