While I was stoking the fire up one morning, I was a little frustrated with one of the pieces of wood that was very difficult to catch fire. I put on my fireproof gloves and gathered in all the hot embers that had fallen to the sides back to the middle so that it could help to ignite the stubborn piece that was not catching. Thankfully, being in the middle of the fire, surrounded by the hot embers, and other burning logs, that stubborn piece caught a blaze. I kept tending to it so that it remained surrounded by wood that continued to burn, so that it too, would continue to burn, and provide warmth.
My son experienced one of those pieces of wood that would not catch fire. He got so frustrated with it that he threw it out the front door into the snow. A few days later, I took the piece of wood that had been thrown out the front door, threw it in the fire and it caught.
So today I decided to burn a fire to get rid of the smoke smell in my house. When I started the fire, it had a LOT of smoke! It was not going up the chimney, but coming out of every crack that it could, filling our home with smoke!
Thinking about the Christian walk, and relating this wood burning to people, there are some people that have been taught their entire lives how to burn. It is natural for them. There are some people that have been taught and have fallen to the side. There are some people that have never heard, and when thrown in the fire, they don’t know what to do. They may be in the midst of the seasoned Christians and still not get it. The key is not to force them, but to surround them with seasoned, natural love, so that they feel the flame, and eventually catch themselves. I love the picture with the stubborn piece that my son threw out the door. When we give up on people and throw them out in the cold, we put out the ember of hope. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9). As long as they stay in the midst, they will eventually catch. We have to be patient.
Some people are like seasoned wood that has sat and all the filth of the world has faded, some are like freshly cut wood, and need time. It will take them longer to catch the fire, but can and may. Today gave me another picture. There are some that stay in the midst of the fire, and just blow SMOKE!!! We need to be cautious of them. There are wolves in sheep clothing, and sometimes it is hard to see them; but when the fire is hot, the smoke really starts to reveal itself. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15).
Ultimately each of us is accountable to keep the fire going, and to share it with others so that they too can burn bright. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). And in the end, we will be accountable to God for that. “each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3: 13). The ones that have been taught, and have fallen away from the fire need to go back to the center of the fire. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works…” (Revelation 2:5).