Over the last few weeks I have spent more time around a fire than usual. I bought a few fire pits for the church in October and used them several times. I spent 4 days in freezing rain with the Boy Scouts. I have had a fire around the house several nights this last week as well. Even though I am an Eagle Scout, my fire skills aren’t as good as they could be. My friend Jay taught me some great tips when I was out with the Boy Scouts. My fires since then have been a lot better.
We build fires for many reasons. Environment, warmth, cooking, or just fun…fires are pretty awesome. Sometimes people think the only purpose of a fire is to get a flame and they just start piling on wood. But keeping a great fire is much more than burning sticks.
I was sitting around a fire a couple of nights ago and realized there are some serious life lessons from tending a fire. Poking a fire is pretty important.
Life Lessons Learned from Poking a Fire.
1. Poking the fire keeps it going.
When you arrange the fire frequently, you are able to consistently get good heat and better flame. Just letting a fire be is a quick way to a bad fire.
Many times in life we settle. We settle for what we think is success or we settle for what we think is the mundane. We settle for a sub-par life with God. We need to be constantly considering if we are really in the center of God’s will. We need to be making adjustments and intentionally doing the things that lead us to life.
2. Poking Your Fire is a Better Use of Resources.
Wood isn’t wasted when you poke your fire. If your purpose is cooking, you have to be poking the fire to make great coals. You are able to center your heat and energy in a certain zone.
When we are always carefully sharpening ourselves we are able to easier discern if we are making an impact. Are we being aimless in life, drifting without an purpose? I am a big fan of personal evaluation because evaluation enables us to best focus on the places we are able to do the most positive work.
3. You can restart your flame, from nothing to a full burn. In seconds.
Have you ever realized your fire has gone out? It is still hot, but you have no flames. A few careful and maneuvered pokes can get it roaring again in just a few seconds. I am sure someone smarter than I can give me the scientific answer why. I am pretty sure it has to do with oxygen, one of the three essential elements in fire. The fire was simply deprived of something it needed.
We all have those seasons of life where nothing gets done. We haven’t made any forward motion in life. We are just checking off items. When we are aware of this, we can usually jump in and in just a few moments get ourselves back on track. I have spent the last 2 days focused on a project at church which has taken up almost all of my time. I knew this and had to jump start myself back into the swing of things. Since I know my rhythms and habits, this takes just a few moments to get back on track. My fire is going again.
4. You leave no waste.
The other night I kept a really good fire going for around 2 hours. I went through a good bit of wood. At the end of the night, I had around a quart of waste. A few pieces the size of a pecan and tons of ash. Since I was constantly working on this fire as it was burning, I used my resources well. Nothing was wasted and what was left was almost all at it’s highest level of burn.
I don’t like to waste time and energy. This can be through procrastination or laziness. It can also be through misuse or bad allocation of energy. I find most of the time I do this (and others as well) by not being aware of what is going on around them. It isn’t intentional waste. It is a mind that isn’t really focused on what is at hand. In Ephesians 5:16 the Apostle Paul tells us we should be “making the most of every opportunity”. Life is a gift, given to us to give witness and life to the presence of Jesus Christ around us. I don’t want to waste that.
Fires provide awesome environments. People gather around them because they instantly perk up a cold night. In the end, being aware of how we live life isn’t done just for the sake of getting things done, but instead developing an environment around us people can find welcoming and life giving. Just like a great fire.