A Fire for Cold Hearts

by Charles R. Swindoll

Scriptures: Deuteronomy 8:11-14; Matthew 24:12; Revelation 2:4-5

It happened in a large, seventy-five-year-old stone house on the west side of Houston. A massive stairway led up to several bedrooms. The den down below was done in rough-hewn boards with soft leather chairs and a couple of matching sofas. The wet bar had been converted into a small library, including a shelf of tape recordings and a multiple-speaker sound system. The ideal place to spend a weekend . . . unfortunately, my wife and I were there just for the evening.

The smell of char-broiled T-bones drifted through the rooms. The ladies laughed in the kitchen as they fussed around with ranch-style baked beans, a variety of salads, and homemade pies. Everybody knew everybody. An easy, relaxing atmosphere made you want to kick off your shoes and run your fingers over the thick, black hair of the sleeping Labrador retriever sprawled across the hearth of a crackling fireplace.

The host, a lifelong Christian friend, leaned his broad shoulders against the mantle as he told of the bass that got away last week. While the guys chided him loudly for exaggerating (“it had to weigh ten to twelve pounds!”), my eyes ran a horizontal path across the carved message on the mantle. The room was too dark to read what it said from where I sat. I was intrigued and strangely drawn from my overstuffed chair to get a closer look.

I ran my fingers along the outline of each letter as my lips silently formed the words:

IF YOUR HEART IS COLD
MY FIRE CANNOT WARM IT.

“Hmmmm,” I thought, “how true.”

Fireplaces don’t warm hearts. Neither does fine furniture nor a four-car garage nor a full stomach nor a job with a six-figure salary. No, a cold heart can be warmed only by the fire of the living God.

I settled back down, stayed quiet, and mused over those thoughts. I even prayed as I stared into the fire:

“Lord, keep my heart warm. Stop me when I rev my motor and get to moving too fast toward stuff I think will make me happy. Guard me from this stupid tendency to substitute things for You.”

The dinner bell broke the spell. I stood up with all the men and we strolled toward the patio. I took a quick glance to remind myself of the words on the mantle one more time. The logs were now burned down to embers, and in the glow I remembered:

IF YOUR HEART IS COLD
MY FIRE CANNOT WARM IT.

I thanked God for His fire that has never burned down.

That memorable scenario happened over twenty years ago. My heart has, since then, occasionally cooled off. Today, however, it is warm because He never left me when I was cold.

Lord, keep my heart warm. Guard me from the tendency to choose things over You.

— Charles R. Swindoll