Reigniting Hope: Flames of Faith, Hope, and Love

The summer heat brings with it dry conditions that ignite like kindling. Just this week, my brother and his family were at the ready to evacuate on three occasions because forest fires raged near their home. When my brother sent me a video of one of the fires, my heart sank. 

Then my mind got curious. How does one spark lead to such blazing infernos?

My thoughts take a new turn, and it dawns on me… My heart has been asking a similar question about hope. 

As all the world’s disasters, wars and threats of war, economy, and general divisiveness – not to mention our own personal challenges – try to pull us down everyday, I have become quite aware of hope’s downward spiral in our society. And in myself, my family, my friends. Cynicism and despair thrive in such environments. 

Subsequtently, a cry from my heart to the Lord has arisen, “How do we reignite our hope?” How do we get a spark of hope to catch flame and burn so brightly that light will pierce darkness and love will overcome fear? 

Every Scout worth their salt knows that fire needs three ingredients to get flames to ignite: oxygen, fuel, and heat. When I look at the raging wildfires, it doesn’t take much imagination to picture what heat set the fires near my brother’s home ablaze – hello, Texas triple-digit temperatures. The beautiful, dry pine trees of East Texas are the fuel. And, well, there’s always oxygen – especially when the winds pick up.

So, as spiritual beings who seek to reignite our hope, what are our oxygen, fuel, and heat? 

The Three

In Biblical numerology, certain numbers convey meaning outside their actual numeric value. For instance, the number seven stands for spiritual perfection – like the seven churches in Revelation.1 Twelve symbolizes spiritual authority – like the twelve tribes and twelve apostles.1 

And the number three represents perfection and completion – like the Holy Trinity.

God the Father, He is our fuel. C.S. Lewis says it like this:

“Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn.”2

Mere Christianity

And Paul says it another way:

“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.”

2 Corinthians 3:5

Put all that together, and when we think of our Father in heaven, we need to recognize Him as our source for all we are and do; He is our Sustainer. 

So, when we want to reignite our hope, we have to look at our lives to see what or who we are turning to as our fuel. What’s feeding us? If the answers are things like social media, movies and TV, books and podcasts, then we might be finding the source of our hope-decline. Somewhere along the way we’ve quit fueling ourselves with the Father – the One in whom all things find their being (2 Corinthians 3:5).

God the Son, He is our oxygen. Steffany Gretzinger’s song, “Oxygen,” gives us perspective:

You are my oxygen
You’re making me wanna live again!3 
Sometimes my very best 
Is only my weakest yes
You see strength in every movement
 –  –  –  –  –  
My hope when I’m hopeless
You never run out, You’re the source of it

Think about those moments that you or a loved one struggled to breathe. Maybe a panic attack stole breath. Or illness sucked the oxygen out of the body. To revive, to find pace of life again, oxygen was necessary.

Breathe, we say. Deep breaths. Keep breathing. 

And the same is true for us spiritually. If our focus is on to-do lists, worries, and problems, our oxygen depletes. Our life source, Jesus Himself, is no longer filtering through our systems. Instead, we’re taking-in impure, smoke-filled air, and we choke. Eventually, we die. Because we always, always need oxygen. Like a fire. 

God the Spirit, He is our heat.  The writer of Hebrews cites Deuteronomy when calling God a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). Think about all the times God’s presence – in Spirit form – manifests as fire. The burning bush (Exodus 3:2). The pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21). Fire on top of Mount Sinai and inside the Tabernacle (Exodus 19:18, 40:38). The cleansing spirit of fire and the flaming canopy of glory over Zion (Isaiah 4:4-5). You get the idea…

When John the Baptist stood near the Jordan River, “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” and preparing the people for the coming Messiah (Luke 3:3-4), he explained to the crowds that he baptized with water, but Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire (Luke 3:16). And on the day of Pentecost, when God sent the Holy Spirit to earth to fill every believer of Christ, the Spirit showed up as tongues of fire (Acts 2:2-4). 

Perfectly aglow, the Holy Spirit brings God’s presence, ignites our passions, and purifies all our impurities through sanctification.4 You could say, the Holy Spirit is coming in hot! So, if our flames of hope are dying out, it’s an indication that we’ve neglected to stoke the embers of the Spirit within us. 

Photo by Luke Porter on Unsplash

Another Three

You may have discerned – we’ve moved into a new series for the fall. I have had this image of reigniting our hope since the day God blasted my brain within a picture of hope ablaze – like a revival catching fire. I’ve sat with this vision for over a year now, so it’s humbling and exciting to venture, at last, into a season of exploring what God is trying to tell us about reigniting our hope.

As I’ve researched for this series, I’ve come across verse after verse in the New Testament that brings together what have been called the “trio of Christian graces.”5 Faith, hope, and love. Over a dozen New Testament passages pull this holy threesome together in order to educate, exhort, and encourage. We’ll discover as we unpack each passage that these three gifts, faith-hope-love, are so symbiotic and interconnected that it will be impossible to define one without the other. We’ll see the truth that if we want to spark hope within ourselves and the people around us, then we’re going to have to fan the flames of faith and love, as well.

So. The perfection of the number three brings us the Holy Trinity, the trio of Christian graces, and the ingredients for fire. I hope you’ll join me this fall as we do a deep dive to find what it takes to reignite our hope. I suspect we’ll discover that to do so we must also fuel our faith and take-in the life-giving oxygen of love. And as we do, we’ll begin to feel our hearts burning within us again (Luke 24:32).

Father God, how incredible it is to think of You as our fuel, yet it makes perfect sense that our Creator would also be our Sustainer. You are the One to give us all we need to keep us burning with faith in You, with hope from You, and with love for You. We look to You for all our needs, trusting in your perfect provision. We receive from You all grace and love, all forgiveness and goodness so that we can live like a bush burning with hope for the world to see. Lord Jesus, we grab hold of this image of You being our oxygen. How often we take for granted that our lungs take-in air with every breath, and in the same way, we neglect to recognize how much we need You to keep living. Be in our every inhale, and with every exhale may we praise your holy name. Holy Spirit, what a sight You are, blazing with flames of glory to show us the way to the Father. We pray that You would keep setting fires so that our eyes see all that You have for us, so that we remain focused on the One who ignites our passions and purifies our bodies, minds, and souls. Help us to reignite our hope! In Jesus’ name, amen. 
(inspired by Revelation 4:11; Isaiah 46:4; Philippians 4:19; 1 Corinthians 13:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Daniel 9:9; Psalm 107:1; Genesis 2:7; Acts 17:25; Acts 2:4; Hebrews 12:2; Romans 12:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)

Resources: I love sharing with you the books, podcasts, articles, and anything else that has inspired, encouraged, or taught me. These are humble offerings with no expectations.

  • 1 – If you’re curious about Biblical numerology, this article is a great beginning place. 
  • 2 – I found this interesting article about God as our fuel.
  • 3 – Another article! This one so inspired me…and led me to “Oxygen.” 
  • 4 – One more article – because I liked their three-part description of the Spirit as fire!
  • 5 – Okay, last article. I loved how Haddon Anderson tagged faith-hope-love as the “Trio of Christian Graces!” So far, it’s my favorite moniker for them. How have you heard them described?
  • Our playlist for this series isn’t actually called “Reigniting Hope.” I created the playlist over the course of months as I came across songs that contained our trio of Christian graces — so I really wanted to keep Faith, Hope, and Love in the title. So — our Flames of Faith, Hope, and Love playlist is ready! Most songs are about either faith, hope, love, or all three. Some songs are about the fire and reigniting hope themes. Then, there are songs that will go along with specific week’s motifs. I like to think they’re all woven together to create a lovely collection. I’d love to hear what you think of the playlist and what song(s) are speaking to you.
  • Two more resources:
    • On Wednesdays I’ve begun posting 5-7 minute teaching videos on my Facebook Author Page and Instagram (@shelleylinnjohnson).
    • My newsletter’s first issue will release at the end of September — I may have underestimated how much it takes to get a newsletter up and running. But, it’s coming! I’m excited and honored to be able to share with subscribers peeks into my actual life, the things (like books) that are feeding me, and extra tidbits I don’t share anywhere else. I think it’s gonna be FUN and full of ways we can continue to engage in the abiding life! I hope you’ll subscribe! (You can subscribe to my blog on the homepage of my site — or at the bottom of any page on my site. I’ll have a page coming soon to subscribe to the newsletter specifically, but if you’re already getting my blog in your inbox, you’re IN!)
  • Rhythms we can incorporate into our daily lives to aid us in our dwelling with God, living for Him, and putting our hope in Him:
    • In most households, the fall means calendars are full and the days are packed. So, for our Reigniting Hope series, let’s settle in for some stillness. I keep picturing Mary of Bethany at Jesus’ feet — listening, trusting, worshiping. She was learning but also building a relationship with her Savior. And none of us can do that when we’re running a hundred miles an hour. Here’s the thing about stillness — it’s difficult for most of us. We’re hard wired for motion. We’re well-trained Americans who value ‘busy.’ Maybe that’s why we see “Be still…” everywhere we go in the Christian sector. Something in us knows — even longs — to stop the running, the worrying and sit at His feet.
      • This week, get still anyway you want — try to get to Jesus’ feet for a little while everyday. And just be. If your mind needs some help settling in, I love this prayer from Lectio 365, “As I enter prayer now, I pause to be still, to breathe slowly, to re-center my scattered senses upon the presence of God.” I just keep repeating it till my scattered senses settle.
  • Finally, as a community, let us not neglect sharing God’s hope with others! Share your God-stories with people around you. Share this site. Share God’s Word. Shine His light of His hope into the world!

Featured portrait: Photo by Elisabeth Arnold on Unsplash. Bits & Pieces Photo by Arjun Kapoor on Unsplash

Published by Shelley Linn Johnson

Lover of The Word. And words. Cultivator of curiosity about all things Christ. Lifelong learner who likes inviting others along for the journey. Recovering perfectionist who has only recently realized that rhythms are so much better than stress-inducing must-do's.

3 thoughts on “Reigniting Hope: Flames of Faith, Hope, and Love

  1. Love this!!! Perfect timing!!! ❤️

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