Kindle a Flame, Lord

Kindle a flame in me.

Would that me also, wretched though I be, yet His poor servant, He might deign so to arouse from the sleep of idleness, so to kindle with that fire of divine love, that the flame of His love, the longing of His so great charity, would mount above the stars, and the divine fire would ever burn within me! Would that I had the tinder to foster, feed, and keep alight that fire unceasingly, and nourish that flame, which knows no quenching and knows all increase!

  - Columbanus, Sermon XII, Irish, 7th century[1]

Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O L
ORD of hosts,
My King and my God.

  - Psalm 84.3

I have a hard time putting together Columbanus and “the sleep of idleness.”

Here’s a guy, at 50 years of age, a successful scholar and mentor, who decides with 12 companions to go on mission for the Lord, and heads out to Gaul (France).

It’s the turn of the 7th century, so this is no mean achievement in itself. But what happens over the next several years is, well, astonishing.

He works every day in the fields with his pals while continuing his life of piety and scholarship. He establishes four monasteries at which thousands – thousands – of young men are trained for the Gospel ministry and the life of martyrdom. He stands up to corrupt kings, lazy priests and bishops, and even the pope himself!

He writes. He preaches. He stands up to corrupt kings and queens and tells them they need to repent. He is busy all the time, and more and more people seek out his teaching and counsel.

And he’s crying out to the Lord to light his fire and make it shine a little brighter?

Friend, what hope is there for you and me? If this guy’s idle, we’re dead!

Columbanus lived as a sacrifice for the Lord every day of his adult life. He wanted nothing more than that the light of Christ’s love should shine through him and radiate into the lives of the people God put in his path, and he wept to think that anything in him might inhibit that great work.

He was Personal Mission Field personified.

Columbanus was like a sparrow or a swallow, offered up on the altar of the Lord, and his only regret was that he could not burn more brightly than he did.

Who are your heroes? How do you want to spend your life? Jack Miller used to say, with a nod to Psalm 84.3, “even the bird brains know where they belong.” What do you want your life to count for during the short years God gives you on this earth?

Take up the longing of Columbanus and make it your prayer every day: “Come on, Jesus, kindle a flame in me!” Light a fire under me, Lord, and send me burning with love for you into my Personal Mission Field.

For Reflection
1. Have you mapped out your Personal Mission Field? You need to do so today. Watch this brief video and download the worksheet.

2. Each Monday, check out the Personal Mission Field workshop for ideas about how you can shine the light of Christ more consistently and effectively in your Personal Mission Field. To whom will you shine the light of Christ today?

Psalm 84.1-4 (Holy Manna: Brethren, We Have Met to Worship)
Lord of hosts, how sweet Your dwelling; how my soul longs for Your courts!
Let my soul with joy keep telling of Your grace forever more.
Like a bird upon the altar let my life to You belong.
Blessed are they who never falter as they praise Your grace with song!

Kindle a flame in me, dear Lord; use even me just as You will and when and where! Send me today to…

A Thanksgiving Challenge
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T. M. Moore
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


[1] Walker, pp. 113, 115.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore