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The Holy Spirit as Our Backfire

We all face unwanted events and feelings in life, things that can rage like a wildfire in us within seconds. Thanks to God’s Spirit, who can put out those fires just as a backfire can, bringing His peace and safety.



Before the recent rains, our area was on “very high alert” for wildfires. In fact, in many places throughout the nation, including Alaska and British Columbia, fires have been raging through the forests destroying thousands of acres of wilderness. Fires can be started by human carelessness or intention, by lightning strikes, or fueled by the dry needles of dead pine trees. Sadly, forest fires have been ravaging North America for years.

We know from experience in our Wisconsin Northwoods how devastating fires can be, and how firefighters remain diligent to prevent forest fires. Sometimes rain falls just in time to save houses, wildlife, and trees. Sometimes the firefighters create backfires—when there's time—to stop the main fires from progressing. At any rate, fighting fires is a hot, miserable, and sometimes hopeless task. We can be thankful for those who risk their lives to keep us from being affected by wildfires and to keep our wilderness healthy and thriving.

Sometimes the daily crises of our lives seem like burning fires, which we spend time, energy, and expense putting out. Paying overdue debts, battling disease or addictions, or staying on the job that threatens to end due to outsourcing can raise havoc in our lives. Lesser “evils” can also set us up for worry and fear. It’s no wonder the suicide rate in our country is higher than it's ever been.

But there is hope. As we celebrated Pentecost Sunday last week, we remember the story about Jesus preparing the disciples for His imminent death. He promised them the gift and comfort and power of His Holy Spirit, who would come upon them with a fiery baptism. When that time arrived, the Holy Spirit came upon them like a mighty wind. "They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them…." (Acts 2:3)

The disciples and many other followers of Jesus had been despondent after Jesus died. Imagine their surprise and elation when the Holy Spirit Himself touched them! Like a powerful, sure, and successful backfire, the Holy Spirit put out the raging fires of their doubts and fears so they could then acquire the power and will to spread the good news about Jesus, their Savior and Lord—and to go on living.

The fires of life that threaten us each day can also be quenched by the backfire of the Holy Spirit if we but ask and wait, as the disciples did.

Lord, help us remember that your Holy Spirit will quench the fires of our fragile lives so we no longer need to deal with its raging infernos. Help us remember to trust in Your sure, powerful backfires. In Jesus' name, amen.

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