I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. (2 Timothy 1:6 NLT)

All the lights are off in the house. The quiet stillness of winter settles down into its own deep darkness. The house is strangely quiet now that all the company has gone. You take a few moments to let the year come to a gentle end after months of fury, fear, and frustration. Yes, there is something relaxing about the soft glow and the tangy aroma of dying embers as you kick back in the recliner and let the year's end gently sink down around you. The wispy trails of smoke slide up the chimney with the muffled crackle of ember remains that melt away into ash.

What does it all mean — this gentle ending of the year?
What does the future hold?
Where are going to be a year from now?
What about the economy — will it hold and will the recovery continue?
What about our world — will good things emerge from all the hope and promise found at the end of a year of war, bloodshed, and fear?
What about our church — will we get past our problems and on to the real work of God?
What about our family — can the broken hearts be mended and the old wounds be healed?
What are we to make of this late night moment of grace and its quiet ministry of rest?

Each year ends with a whimper — not so much on New Year's Eve with its partying and wildness, but late on New Year's Day. For many folks, it's the last respite at the end of a long holiday season and before the high rpm's of a new year of work begin again. It is also a moment of decision for many of us. Underneath all the resolutions — that most folks know deep in their hearts that they will never keep — we have some smoldering dreams for things not yet accomplished and for goals not yet achieved. In many ways, our futility with largely superficial New Year's resolutions becomes our insulation against looking at those real goals and fanning into flame the smoldering embers of our dreams.

We sit at a moment of opportunity.
Underneath the façades of our beginning of the year hoopla lie the dying embers of yesterday — of dreams not yet roused and hopes not yet raised. We sit at a moment of opportunity when the night's dying embers can be gathered and fanned into fire, or they can remain scattered in the ashen soot to slowly die away.

Don't let the dying holiday rush and final gasp of partying steal away from you this golden moment of reflection and promise. Yes, enjoy the rest and the aroma that goes with the dying of evening embers. However, let them also be a reminder that God longs to breathe on the glowing hopes and dreams he has placed in your heart. Let his Holy Spirit fan them into flame until there is something new and vibrant in your life that is on fire with the grace and power of God.

The year is coming to its end. We will determine whether or not we will turn off the lights for another year on the holy passions God has placed inside us or if we will be warmed into flame with the presence of God's holy fire. The choice is ours ... as we enjoy the last few wisps, the tangy aroma, and the final crackle of our dying evening fire.