So we start gathering twigs of all sizes. First we lay on a handful of pine straw, which almost immediately begins to smoke, followed by twigs the circumference of darning needles, then pencils, then finally some as big around as your thumb. Usually before we are finished the straw is burning and once we hear the first crackle of wood, we know we have been successful. If we have it, a sliver of lighter wood will ensure the fire doesn't go out, especially if we must take the time to grab a hatchet or axe and do some log splitting. Now we're ready to sit back and warm our bones, throwing on another full size log as needed.
You can learn a lot from a campfire. For one thing, those tiny darning-needle-sized twigs are just as important as a larger log. The latter may last much longer and give out more heat, but it would never have caught in the first place without the smaller twigs. It might smoke and char a bit on the outside, but that's about it.
For another, you aren't the only thing a good fire warms up. Sometimes in our zeal for warmth, we stack twigs so high that a few fall off and roll to the back of the ring. I was watching one on an early cool spring morning, seven or eight inches long, maybe a half inch in diameter, as it stood against the back side of the ring, at least a foot from the flames. Suddenly, without a spark landing on it and without even smoking first, it burst into flame. It had been a roaring fire. We had already backed our chairs away a good two or three feet further, and it was so hot that a twig a good foot or so away had burst into flame without even being in the fire.
So which piece of wood are you?
Are you the small, seemingly insignificant twig that catches quickly and then passes its heat on to another and another and yet another? The one who constantly mentions the Lord in your life and the love and generosity of spirit in your brethren rather than complaining about them?
Are you the one who burns so hot that anyone nearby catches on fire, too? The one who brings your friends, who peppers the preacher with questions they have asked you as you try to satisfy their curiosity and teach them the truth?
Are you the larger log that burns long and hot, leaving embers behind that will help others start yet another fire after you are gone, one that might even burn larger and hotter than anything you ever imagined? The parents who faithfully teach children who grow up to preach the Word to hundreds, who work long and hard to start a congregation in your area, who hold Bible studies in your home and attend gospel meetings as your Friday night entertainment?
Campfires: I have always enjoyed sitting next to one, watching the flames, yellow, orange, red, purple, and even blue, listening to the crackle and hiss, smelling the various smells of burning oak, hickory, and cedar.
They are also a pretty good place to sit and think…
If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. (Jer 20:9).