My children seem drawn to the warmth of the woodstove that adorns my office. They gather around, watching me light the fire, carefully stacking kindling and logs in just the right spots. They are enthralled by the striking of the match, as it spits and spurts into flames, dancing in the draft of the chimney. They are delighted when the fire grows, and watch with worry when I blow into the smoke to fan the flame.
Wood heat is warm, it is comforting, and the old modified Ben Franklin wood stove it is the mainstay of our home. It saves us hundreds of dollars in electric heating each month, and gives us the security of knowing we’ll have a warm home and a means to cook in case of a lengthy power outtage. No matter the storm outside, we’ll have warmth and comfort inside. The crackling and popping of the flames warms the heart and the bones on chilly winter evenings.
A warm fire is definitely a gift, although it is not without its challenges. Firewood must be chopped or delivered, stacked, and covered. It must be aged in order to burn. It must be the right kind of wood, and the chimney must be clean to allow for air flow and to prevent fires. Sometimes, keeping the fire going can be a challenge. If the kindling is wet, or there isn’t enough, it can be hard to light up those hardwoods. if the wood isn’t seasoned, or aged, it might not burn efficiently and it might not burn at all. A good fire requires maintenence – you have to tend it, and nurse it. Feed it logs regularly, stoke it, poke, and move the logs around so the coals can continue to ignite the additional logs. The conditions have to be right.
I’ve never heard of a forest fire in a rain forest, because the conditions just aren’t right. And in order to fan the flame of our faith, we have to make sure the conditions are right. We cannot read our Bible once, and expect our faith to stay ignited. We have to study the Bible, and feed our faith, and keep the conditions of our heart right so that our faith can be ignited and burn hot with God’s love.
I love to peer into the fire, and watch the flames dance and twirl. I love the soft smell of smokiness in my hair and clothes, and I love to feel the warmth of the wood stove as I stand nearby. May my faith and yours burn brightly with the love of God and may it continue to glow forevermore.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.1 Timothy 1:6, NIV.