A Solid Lump of Burning Fire

Our house sits perched on the edge of Gunter Mountain. From our deck, you can take in the view of the Tennessee River slicing through Lake Guntersville. My husband says we can see 20 miles up and down the river. (I can’t tell you how many yards it is to the mailbox, so I just take his word for it.) We literally wake up on top of the mountain every morning.

Spiritually speaking, few if any of us can say we wake up every single morning with hearts passionately blazing from a mountaintop experience with God. Most of us have experienced the emotional rollercoaster of being high above the fray one minute only to take a swift ride to the depths the next. When we’re at the bottom of our ride, we sadly remember how it felt to be on fire for God at the top, and we mournfully long to return. Then, when we’re on a spiritual  high our joy occasionally gets tainted by knowing our passion will eventually fizzle.

Peter certainly knew the highs and lows of walking with Jesus. He knew the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Peter intimately understood what Jesus explained to Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) We cannot get any more grace than the grace we received when we put our faith in Jesus and allowed Him to pay our past, present, and future sin bill. How could there be any more grace than that? We can, however, grow while being planted in that rich soil of God’s amazing grace. Maybe that’s why Peter ended his second letter with, “You must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18) 

Perhaps all we need when it comes to maintaining our passion and growing in grace is a change of perspective. I recently read a sermon by Charles Spurgeon written in the 1800’s. It still offers all of us a bit of encouragement to take whatever ups and downs life throws at us. I’ll leave you with a taste of that sermon. May his words motivate each of us to become a “solid lump of burning fire”. 

“Do not think, because your wild heat is gone, that you have not grown. When we light a fire, we always put the straw and kindling at the bottom; and when we first light it, there is a great deal of flame, and a great deal of smoke. But, afterwards, when the flame gets hold of the coals, there is not so much blaze, but there is really more heat. You may have lost some of your flame and smoke, but then you have more solid fire; we would rather warm our hands by the coals than by the straw, for that must soon go. So is it with grace; it begins with a flame which catches the lighter substances, and lays hold on the imagination and the passions; but, in after life, it appeals to the judgment, and makes the man one solid lump of burning fire. He is not a little flame, rising towards heaven, that the wind might blow out with a puff; but he becomes so strong a fire that the wind shall but increase the flame, and shall make the heat the greater. So it may be with you. Perhaps you have become more solid though you are less fiery.

     Do not suppose, when you are depressed, that, therefore, you are not growing. Many of God’s plants grow best in the dark, and he often puts them in the dark to make them grow. When you are growing upwards, recollect that there is such a thing as growing downward. You may have had, yesterday, a divine manifestation that took you up to the top of the Delectable Mountains. You must not think you are big because you are up on high, for pigmies perched on Alps are pigmies still; and if you were ever so little, it would not make you any bigger if you were taken to the top of St. Paul’s. If, on the other hand, you are deep down in a mine, do not imagine that you are any the smaller for that reason. I can tell you that you will often grow faster in the dungeon than on the top of a mountain; but it is not a pleasant place to be in. When our depravity is revealed to us, when our desolation of spirit, and our utter hopelessness and powerlessness are uncovered and made manifest by God’s Holy Spirit, we grow, I believe, even faster than we do when, on the wings of seraphs, we are privileged to mount on high. 

So, do not measure your growth in grace by your feelings. Some of you make a kind of barometer of your feelings. Do not do so. If we are in Christ, we are in Christ by faith, and not by feelings; and recollect that, whether your feelings are good or bad, you are no more or less a child of God. Your faith, sinner, unites you with the Lamb, — not your feelings. Trust him in darkness, trust him in distress, lean on him when you cannot see him; and when there seems nothing to walk on, still tread, for the ground is firm beneath the foot of faith.”  

Charles Spurgeon, Growth in Grace, 1958

Posted in
A Solid Lump of Burning Fire blog cover art

2 Comments

  1. Amy Largen on June 26, 2021 at 11:44 am

    Beautifully written!

    • Donna Jackson on June 26, 2021 at 1:53 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to read it! Blessings! Hope you’ll continue to travel down Perfection Road.

Leave a Comment





Take Me as I Am

By Donna Jackson | July 20, 2021 |

The waitress poured us another cup of coffee. Not seeing the bottom of our cups for a couple of hours would earn her a nice tip. Measly crumbs from breakfast lingered on empty plates as we each revealed our own tidbits of angst. Realizing we’d both had similar frustrating weeks, my friend sighed, “I started…

What a Sweet, Sweet Spirit!

By Donna Jackson | July 13, 2021 |

Does any of this sound familiar? Your emotions are pushing you in one direction, but you’ve learned you can’t trust swirling emotions. They’ve misled you more than once. Yet, in the middle of your wrestling, you feel a stronger-than-usual nudge. You wonder whether it’s the Spirit or Satan. On one hand, you’re tempted to believe…

Props for the Drooping

By Donna Jackson | July 6, 2021 |

Street corners, window boxes, and yards are filled with beautiful flowers this season! Newest plants continuously soak in raindrops and rays that push down roots and help sprout new leaves. Older established plants in my yard received extra attention during our months of quarantine. Faithfully, they’ve put down deeper roots and grown stronger branches. A…

Keeping the Light On and Staying Out of the Darkness

By Donna Jackson | June 29, 2021 |

What Won’t Help Someone Struggling with Depression Trying Harder Criticizing Disbelieving Comparing Over Spiritualizing Dismissing Deflecting Redirecting Minimizing Reducing Taken from Out of the Cave by Chris Hodges, p. 38 What Will Help Someone Struggling with Depression Committing Being Trustworthy Connecting Supporting Accepting Helping Encouraging Giving Hope Listening Offering a new perspective Taken from Out…

A Solid Lump of Burning Fire

By Donna Jackson | June 15, 2021 |

Our house sits perched on the edge of Gunter Mountain. From our deck, you can take in the view of the Tennessee River slicing through Lake Guntersville. My husband says we can see 20 miles up and down the river. (I can’t tell you how many yards it is to the mailbox, so I just…

Martha and Mary’s Hidden Gem

By Donna Jackson | June 14, 2021 |

If you listen to playing children for very long, you’ll most likely hear the words, “That’s not fair!” Exasperated parents often respond with, “I’m sorry, but life’s not always fair.”   If we’re honest, even as adults, it’s easy to fall into the “that’s not fair” trap. We grudgingly witness others happily waking up in our dreams, or…

Reflections of You and Me

By Donna Jackson | June 8, 2021 |

Mountains or beach? Most of us develop an intense preference for one or the other early on. I enjoy going to the mountains, but the beach ALWAYS blesses my soul. The smell of salt air mixed with sunscreen and the taste of freshly grilled fish (or steak at Big Mike’s Steakhouse) paints my face with a big wide grin. I bask in the constant…

The One Jesus Loves

By Donna Jackson | May 25, 2021 |

I love Jesus for many reasons, but one of them is for teaching us the importance of friendship. Jesus was a friend to everyone, but perhaps His three closest friends (Peter, James, and John) knew Him best of all. Do you have a nickname?  In my family, everyone has at least one, and most have…

Sweat, Grass, and Sam Cooke

By Donna Jackson | May 18, 2021 |

Last summer, the swelter of the hot southern day forced my skin to do more than glisten. Sweat dripped off the end of my nose, temporarily watering the stubborn weeds being jerked out of my flower bed. Lively tunes in my ears helped make the task more bearable while drowning out my husband’s roaring mower. …

Can You Answer One Question?

By Donna Jackson | May 11, 2021 |

The message for ladies struggling with drug and alcohol addiction rested quietly in my notebook. My outline on grace was simple – one I thought would resonate with ladies who humbly admitted their unhealthy choices. I prayed that my newfound passion would be evident, and that it would entice others to want the Jesus I…