Where Did the Fire Go?

Derek Ouellette —  June 25, 2010

I read a post by Trevin Wax yesterday who announced his 29th birthday, and thanked the Lord that he was not like so many stereotypical stories of people just coming back to church after wasting their twenties away, and usually living in regret. As someone who is in the midst of his 31st year, I can tell you that I relate more with the crowd then with Trevin on this one.

Trevin reflected on the day he boarded a plane for Romania with a one-way ticket. He was only 20 and off to the mission field he went! He said that together with his wife they often wonder and hope that if God so willed, would they be willing to get up and go as they once did?

Reading this story made me reflect on my own story, and ask, “Where did the fire go?”

As a young teen I was so passionately on fire for God! What do most teenage boys dream of when they dream of their twenties? Being a successful business man? Being filthy rich? Marrying a supermodel? Becoming a professional athlete?

I dreamed of living in a small apartment devoted to prayer! That was my dream. I had a fireplace and a small prayer bench; no T.V. or computer. Just me, a prayer bench and God. That was my childhood fantasy. People would say that I was going to become a preacher and one man even prophesied over me that I would pastor a mega-church. Well, I did not dream of any of that either. Only a prayer bench, me and God. That was it.

I would have gone anywhere. I would have done anything.

Sure I did go. I took a one-way train ride across the country to Bible college in Saskatchewan. I also traveled across the country in the opposite direction because I felt God calling me to a pastor internship in Nova Scotia. But why did I go? As a young teen I would have gone because of a passion shut-up in my bones, but between then and when I actually went, something changed.

I went because something changed. I went because in going I had hoped I would have kindled the fire again. I did not go because I had a fire, I went to get a fire. The fire I once had had somehow been extinguished.

Something sucked the oxygen out of my soul. Something took the wind out of my sails. Sometime between dreaming of a life of prayer and journeying off to do God’s calling, I became dry and brittle inside.

My friends may read this and wonder in bewilderment. “But look at all of the things you’ve done and look at what you’ve accomplished! You’ve traveled this huge country, become a preacher, learned so much by what you read and write.” Yes, but all of that is – on the one hand – superficial, and on the other, none of this represents being fruitful, since all the way along I have quite. I have not in fact accomplished anything in my twenties for which I can be proud, save one: My Wife!

Marrying Yecenia was quite an accomplishment, I don’t want to belittle the fact that marrying her was the wisest decision I’ve made. I could write a thousand posts expounding on that fact alone – I am my beloveds and my beloved is mine!

Nonetheless the fact remains, I have by and large wasted the past ten years of my life. And, as Trevin observed, a great deal of regret follows from this realization. The only question remaining is how am I going to handle that fact with integrity? What I am going to do with that information?

About a year before my dad passed away I remember listening to him pour out his regrets. His entire life – from his perspective at least – was one failure compounded upon another. The only advice I could think to give him was to remind him that life wasn’t over: “Dad, you’re not dead yet! There’s still hope, you can still turn things around. You can still make things matter.”

On that note, here is a list of things I want to accomplish before I turn forty:

  • Complete my Bachelor in Classical Civilization
  • Become fluent in the Spanish language
  • Be able to read the Greek New Testament fluently
  • Complete a Masters in Theology
  • Get at least one book published

But beyond this short but daunting list Yeci and I remain open to the call of the Lord, to travelling and to ministry in whatever form it may present itself.

“Time” is unrelenting, unbiased and without mercy. “Time” is no respecter of person, lifestyle, social class, race, age, ethnicity or religion. The only question is, how are we going to handle this fact with integrity?

Remember Lots wife.” – Jesus

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • http://wearethestories.org Eric Gregory


    I would encourage you that “the fire” is not true spirituality – it can be, but it is most often the result of youthful passion. Not misplaced passion, but youthful, unrealistic passion. You might do well to read the medieval mystics and monastics (often one in the same) regarding what a life devoted to God looks like. It RARELY includes the “fire” that you long(ed?) for or Trevin Wax’s passion.

    Most often it looks like hard work with little comfort, for the deeper we come to know God, the more often we are met with true reality – the longing after something we will not have here on this earth. The one thing that characterizes Christian spirituality is not comfort (hardly ever), but a lifelong longing that is not satisfied. The Song of Songs, Mark’s gospel, the entire history of the Church: these things remind us that comfort, satisfaction and “fire” are not the mark of the Christian. The mark of the Christian are found in the fruit of the Spirit and they are brought about by toil and effort, putting to death the deeds of the body, and rising to life. It’s not esoteric or magical – it’s work and effort, sweat and blood and tears. Being “dry and brittle inside” is part of the dark night of our souls. It’s something to be welcomed (as odd as that sounds).

    I didn’t write this to be a downer, just to encourage you to not seek “the fire”, but to seek God. Nothing else matters.

    (This was all brought to my attention via a book by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, called “The Wound of Knowledge: Christian Spirituality from the New Testament to St. John of the Cross”

  • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

    Thanks Eric, I appreciate the thoughts and am interested in the book by Rowan Williams. I already have it on order.