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The Flicker of the Holy Spirit


Candles have long been used as a figurative expression for the Holy Spirit's presence.

Throughout church history, certain church traditions lit candles to signify the presence of the Holy Spirit within the space. The bouncing, burning light off of the wick can be a reminder to us that although we cannot see Him, the Holy Spirit inhabits believers, igniting a type of fire within us to make His name known. In prayer, the practice of lighting a candle can focus our hearts on the tangible reality of God’s presence.

The Bible contains pictures of God’s presence as a fire. The burning bush (Exodus 3:2-3). The pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21). A prophetic description of Jesus at His return (Daniel 7:9). Clearly, there is something to learn from the metaphor of God’s presence and fire.

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28:29

Unlit, candles smell great. We usually go to the store and smell a million different candle scents until we decide on which one we just absolutely have to have. We buy the candle based on its scent, but in all reality we are only smelling the potential of the candle. The real test comes when the candle is first lit, and the flame allows the smell of the candle to fill the room. I think we can all agree the best candles are the ones that have the strongest scents and burn for the longest amount of time! 

Likewise, the Holy Spirit inhabits believers like a flame on a wick. God the fire inhabits believers as a flame, and by His grace we aren’t consumed. 

I lit a new candle today. The wick, once white and stick straight, instantly blackened and bowed to the weight of the fire. It literally curled over, almost as if the weight of the fire was too much for the weak wick to bear. Almost. But once the candle was lit, I no longer noticed the wick, only the flame. It bounced and flickered and filled my office with the yummy smell of pumpkin spice. The candle with so much potential was fulfilling its purpose through the flame, the wick taking a backseat completely. 

“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.”  2 Corinthians 2:15-16

Lord, make me like this candle. Burn in me and make your aroma spread. Your fire spreads the aroma of Christ all around me. Less of me and more of you!

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2