Sunday, April 03, 2005

Lessons from the Campfire

Have you ever noticed that life is like a campfire?

Last President’s Day I took one of my weekly trips up Iron Mountain Road in Eldorado National Forest to have a cup of coffee, catch up on reading and enjoy a campfire.

I packed a box of store-bought kindling to ignite the fire. I figured that once the fire was hot enough, anything would burn, including firewood saturated by February’s snow and rain. I unpacked the truck at 10 a.m. and should’ve been reading by 10:30. But something about that day told me that I needed to persevere.

A tropical storm had moved up from Southern California. Two distinct thunder cells pounded the Central Valley and Sierra foothills, one of which passed west of my spot around noon.

I struggled to light the fire that morning. Each time the fire sputtered I tore strips from my newspaper and lit it again. I gave up after several failed attempts to breathe life into the campfire, sat down and turned to my books.

Then sometime just before noon, the fire spontaneously burst into flame.

This brings us to the thought for the week:

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are laid ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).
We often treat life like a smoldering campfire. Do we just let the fire smolder until it ignites? Or do we fan the fire, add the driest kindling and nurse it to life?

Paul faced the same adversities and tribulations when he preached the gospel throughout the Mediterranean region two-thousand years ago. In jail for bringing the good news of Jesus Christ, he set the tone of the Philippian letter when he said, "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).

Damp kindling and wet logs didn't dampen Paul's fire. Instead, he pressed on and kept his fire burning in spite of conditions because he knew he had God's backing. We're often beset with the same trials and tribulations. Like the campfire, we sputter along, hoping our fire will spontaneously ignite.

Paul used his adversity to further the gospel (read Philippians 1:12-18). He pressed on until the fire was lit. Instead of looking back at how the authorities had robbed him of his freedom, he rejoiced in the opportunity to serve God.

It takes effort. You may have muddied your knees, blown until you hyperventilated and exhausted your supply of kindling. But in the end, it’s worth that effort because you will "rejoice in the day of Christ" (Philippians 2:16). You will have met the challenge and sat down to the warmth of campfire.

Paul's message and that of the campfire is clear: Don't give up; persevere to the end. The reward is too great to miss.

Portions of this blog were published in the spring 2005 issue of Dutch Oven News.

1 comment:

  1. I sure enjoy your posts. The spiritual and physical food preparations are great. There is a meassage of peace and strength.
    I took our church youth group of 11 kids camping for spring break a couple of weeks ago. It was our first try at group camping and the kids had fun. A little stressful with two rainstorms going over, tornadoes to the north of us and hail to the south of us. Also a trip to the emergency room for a smashed finger. But I knew God had a purpose for the trip, and we want to try it again sometime.