“Joy still comes in the morning/ Hope still walks with the hurting/ If you’re still alive and breathing/ Praise the Lord/ Don’t stop dancing and dreaming/ There’s still Good News worth repeating/ So lift your head and keep singing/ Praise the Lord.”- Matt Maher, Alive & Breathing
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”- Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV)
Until the age of six, I lived without the distraction of a TV. Therefore, I entertained myself through reading books, playing my classical and march records, and cuddling my favorite teddy bear. And that sparked a lifelong thirst for knowledge and a 50+ year ministry as a church organist.
Furthermore, as an educator I constantly researched books on the latest teaching techniques, seeking to provide optimized student learning. But then my downsizing brought over twenty years of elementary teaching to a crashing halt. Yet, as I discovered a few years later, hope still walks with the hurting. Today, for example, the Annotated Bibliography on my Crown of Compassion website contains summaries of 109 books. These books serve as the source for the Short Meditations and daily blogs I write.
In the first verse of Alive & Breathing, Matt Maher exhorts: “What holds your heart/ What stirs your soul/ What matters come to mind/ The cares you keep/ The thoughts you think/ It’s not all wasted time/ Seek and you will find.”
However, what happens when you find yourself in a bad place and there’s no option of making radical change? Above all, you see no way to use your blue flame. Writing in Your Blue Flame, Jennifer Fulwiler defines blue flame with a Christian worldview: It is something you do, and were destined to do, that fills you with energy and adds love to the world.”
Yet, Jennifer asserts, even in the most dire circumstances, there’s always a way to ignite your blue flame. Even if it’s only a tiny spark. During World War II, Father Walter Ciszek decided to joyfully share the gospel with the Russians. Thinking Father Ciszek spied for the Vatican, the Russians arrested him. As a result, he spent the next five years in solitary confinement. Then, he spent almost a decade in a Siberian slave labor camp.
Most significantly, during this seemingly endless time, Father Ciszek devoted himself to prayer. And, Jennifer notes, amid the degrading, punishing work of laying railroad track in the middle of the Russian tundra, he ignited a tiny ember of blue flame. Because he saw his work as love and service of others. Other prisoners noticed that hope still walks with the hurting. Hence, blue flames give you both the energy to persevere and spread warmth to everyone around you.
As often happens, the effects of a blue flame reach far beyond your imagination. In conclusion, Jennifer offers these words of encouragement:
“When you ignite a blue flame, even under circumstances in which it seems impossible, you never know where it will take you. But one thing that will definitely happen is that you will end up blessing other people. Even if you don’t see it at the time, you will have added a little more love to the world than there was before. Also, you will find that a new presence comes into your life: hope. Love and hope walk hand in hand. . . . and even a small bit of hope can make all the difference.”