I wrote and posted this essay several years ago. I can still learn from the message.
The fire on the altar is to be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest shall put firewood on it. On this he shall lay out the burnt offering and burn the fat of the peace offerings. The fire is to be kept burning continuously on the altar; it must not go out (Leviticus 6:5-6).
The smoke never stopped. Night and day, it rose toward heaven. From every corner of the camp the people could see it in the distance. It always reminded them Whose they were, and to Whom they belonged.
They couldn't escape the message -- but the message was always in danger of losing its power. And after a time, that’s what happened. The special became routine. Holy awe waned into indifference. The perpetual smoke became more a token of religion than an evidence of faith. Even before they crossed the Jordan, Israel fell into spiritual lethargy and everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Deuteronomy 12:8).
Israel was not alone in her tendency to drift from awe to boredom. Throughout ancient and modern history, humanity, like sheep, has more often than not wandered from the fires of faith to the ashes of religion.
Even we in the Church are at risk. Perhaps it is better to say, "We in the Church are especially at risk."
While the Lord Jesus continually offers intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25), we can lose our passion for Him. Our worship can tend toward religious ceremony rather than inspire the flames of faithful devotion, obedience, and evangelism.
Israel’s fire did not need to cool. And neither does ours. The remedy available to Israel is the same for God’s people today: [Love] the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might (Deuteronomy 6:5)
Love God. With all our heart and soul and might.
Fr. Pedro Arupe, SJ (died 1991) said it as well as I have ever seen or heard it:
Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love [with God]. Stay in love, and it will decide everything.
Oh, Holy Spirit. Help us fall ever deeper in love with our God. Please.