Site icon Your Sister, Kimber

A Slow Burn & A White-Hot Why

When I was a kid I went through a phase where I was so afraid of fire that my mom bought me a fire escape ladder to keep under my bed in my second-story bedroom. I was an anxious child, okay, – I’m just thankful for a mom who humored me. I still have a healthy respect for fire, for sure, but as an adult there’s just about nothing I love more than a campfire.

I love building them, tending them, watching them, being warm by them. We camped with our church family this past weekend…or rather glamped I guess, because several nights all fifty of us or so settled down for the night by watching a movie on a projector screen from the comfort of our camp chairs around the fire. Both nights I found myself grabbing a blanket to sit on on the ground next to the fire. I love the warmth of a fire, and I love watching it. My favorite part is the coals. They glitter in the dark – or should I say the dusk, as is more accurate in Alaska under the midnight sun – and I’m always fascinated by the way the coals glow. I’m not a pyro, I swear.

But there’s just something about watching a fire that always stirs my soul and gets me thinking about my heart. Maybe it’s because the rhythm of the sparkling coals echoes the blood pumping through my heart, or maybe it’s because the warmth of a campfire draws people around it the way I want to help draw people together around the gospel. Either way, sitting around our little campfire this weekend got me thinking on the condition of my own heart. After over a year of upheaval and redirection and discipline and God teaching me some hard lessons, I’m in a different place than I was several years ago when I was first presented with this idea of a “white-hot why.” Back then I felt like there was this bright blaze just inside my chest that I could barely keep under wraps. The image of a white-hot why was a no-brainer for me then. But lately, it’s felt a bit different. I’ve wondered what to do with a why that feels deferred. I’ve wondered if I misunderstood. I’ve wondered if I’m missing something. I’ve wondered if I’ll ever feel that same way about my why again. I want to, I miss that feeling. But I can’t deny that it feels different these days. Disappointments and detours took a toll on me that I’m still recovering from, and some days I just wish to feel that bright blaze again. But I think relying on that feeling is a lie. The coals reminded me that passion evidenced by feeling “on fire” is not the only place where passion lives in my soul. I never lost my white-hot why. It took a beating maybe, but it’s not burned out cold just yet; with some tending, it’s recovering. I’m learning to store my why in a deeper place, where the winds of feelings may alter its appearance, but never its presence. I’m learning that the coals are the most enduring part of the fire.


A Slow Burn

Someone once asked me what it was,

My white-hot why.

The kind that burns

In the deepest part of your heart,

The why you do what you do

That outweighs all the rest.

It’s this pull you can’t shake,

Every breath you take

It rattles and quakes

Your bones, this flame.

It burns hot and bright

And by it you see every shape

And space in even the

Most shadowed corners of your life.

And this light that’s inside,

This white-hot why,

It guides every step that you take,

Every decision you’ll ever make.

And when that flame is at its height,

Man, don’t you feel so alive?

Because you really know your why.

But maybe this flame

Is a smaller thing these days.

Deprived of fuel,

What was once a strong blaze

Has flickered to nothing

More than a simmer.

And your coals, they wait,

Unstirred, almost cold –

Today seems so far from someday.

And it might seem strange,

But what burned white-hot,

So clear, with such seeming strength

Has become a slow burn

Of page after page

Of a life of big dreams,

And what were once

Big, hot flames.

And it feels like you’ve died

When you can’t feel the fire inside.

Doused by disappointment and doubt,

Dreams now stand caged –

Perhaps, a mistake?

And you wonder if it’s gone,

Opportunity missed.

Someday’s just a myth,

A flame snuffed away,

A why told to wait.

But have you ever played in a fire?

Charred sticks to fiddle and mess with

The red, hot, even white-hot coals?

Have you seen them glitter in the night?

Bouncing refracted light

Off the faces of those in your life

Who conjure to mind

That once bright, white-hot why.

If you’ve spent any time by a fire,

Nursing dreams and desires,

You’ll know that what sparkles

In the pit of a fire

Is the strongest part of that blaze.

These mere coals could be kept

Burning for days.

And the absence of some flames

Is in no way to say

The fire is snuffed out.

So, child, what would it take

To reignite that once white-hot blaze?

Take what has cooled and remake

A bed of ash into new purpose

And now, also strength.

See, the more coals in your pit,

The more heat in your flame.

All it would take

Is a slight stir in the grate,

A holy God-breath to

Regenerate that flame.

If by the breath of our Lord

The whole heavens were made,

If by it understanding can bloom

In my brain,

God, breathe into these slain,

That they may live.

These coals can’t stand one more day

Of lying in wait for someday.

But what I’ve come here to say

Is that it’s okay

To nurture a steady flame,

That why just as clear, just as strong

As that first wildfire blaze.

And actually, friend, at the end of the day,

Your coals, they’re okay.

I’ll take a steady burn,

A why I known in my bones

For its steadfast simmer.

I’ll take a white-hot why

That fuels my day and all of my ways

Over a quick burn, any day.



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