This past Sunday, during our worship service at SOZO Church, there was a strong yet gentle sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit moving on me and many others as we ministered to the Lord. The theme for us in this season is “Preparing For Glory,” with an emphasis on the importance of prayer in the secret place. We’re engaging in a seven-day fast for the purpose of sensitizing our hearts to His presence, anticipating a powerful move of the Spirit to be released in our midst, even as He has been speaking to many around the Body of Christ.
As I was experiencing His sweet touch on my own heart, I suddenly had a rather clear image in my mind of a chimney sweep quietly doing his work, hidden behind the scenes. I had the sense that this was an interesting picture of the Holy Spirit preparing us for holy fire to be released in this house, among this people.
A chimney sweep is important because his job is to clear out things that would be damaging to the house if the fire was lit and the chimney had not been swept. The picture was of the Holy Spirit’s invitation to allow Him to find the soot and grime in our hearts, and to embrace the spirit of repentance and turning that would make us ready for the ignition of the flame.
The Old Testament prophet Malachi wrote of this same idea in chapter 3 of his prophetic book, where he speaks of the messenger of the covenant that is coming to the Temple. As we read that text, we get the sense that there are actually two messengers, one who comes to prepare the way, and the second One who comes as the burning fire to ignite the flame, to purify the priestly sons and daughters, so that the offerings brought to the Lord will be righteous, fully acceptable and perfect.
It’s that reality that I believe the Holy Spirit is communicating: He’s coming gently but insistently, helping us get ready through confession of sin, embracing a heart of repentance, and turning away from anything that would hinder or limit the presence of Jesus in our midst. It’s a quiet invitation, but an important one, similar to Jesus knocking on the door of the church in Revelation 3:20, where He is inviting the lukewarm church to open their doors and allow Him to enter. The surprise is that the Jesus that enters is the consuming fire of Malachi 3, and having been invited in, He will consume us, He will have His way.
The bottom line? Welcome the “chimney sweep.” Invite Him in to do His work in preparation for the ignition that is coming. Prepare your hearts for the Living Flame of Love to enter and have His way. He is coming, and our hearts will be satisfied.