Creative Juice: Why I Would Rather Be Ash Than Dust

January 13, 2014


Who thinks much about ash?  The little gray particles floating out of our campfires.  The pile left in our fireplaces and barbecue grills.

When we talk about burning out, we talk about people who have so much pressure put on them, either by themselves or by others, that they break down.  Lots of people seem to burn out of church.  Or they burn out of their jobs or their ministry.  Burning out is bad.

Jack London is one of my favorite authors.  And just as much as I enjoy his stories of men fighting the elements of nature, I enjoy his philosophy of living.  Because he did not sit back and take life passively.  For London, living, working, writing was all something that you went after ferociously.  He is one of my male role models / heroes.  Not the only role model I enjoy admiring, but one of them.

And for Jack London, life was not about burning out…but it was about burning.  It was about fueling a glowing ember inside you that generated heat and energy and ambition and love.

That’s why I absolutely delighted in sharing this quote to my students.  It produced a number of puzzled looks.  Students had to think for several moments as they contemplated his meaning before their faces would change to the “A-ha!” expression.  And for me, it just sums up so simply one aspect of how I want to live.


I would rather die having lived, having burned, having glowed, than simply settled passively.  I hope you feel the same.  I hope this year is one of opportunities for you.  And when those opportunities present themselves, go after them boldly.

3 responses to Creative Juice: Why I Would Rather Be Ash Than Dust

  1. Preacher Vance Havner would say decades ago that everyone is talking about burning out…trouble is most of them haven’t caught fire yet. He said he would rather burn out than rust out.Personally I have been considering retiring from full time ministry so that I can re-boot and get started doing new things that matter more to me, my family and impactful missions.

  2. As a literature enthusiast, I agree completely. There are a lot of people (in the church especially) that give me really weird looks when I talk about “Christian Hedonism” and I was beginning to suspect that perhaps I was alone in my desire to live life and enjoy it, rather than slog after goals that make my life feel like a gear in a machine instead of a gong for the Lord.
    I hope you never lose your desire to burn. And I mean that in the most loving way possible. :)

  3. Totally awesome post! Light the fire, baby!
    tandemingtroll recently posted..Lost Dutchman Inspiration