Whenever a conifer is injured, the resin in it, rushes to the injury site to seal the wound. That section of the tree then becomes resin-rich. When the tree is cut up, you will see the difference in the wood, a shiny reddish hue, and you will smell it instantly. Though there are no chemicals or petroleum in it, that is exactly how it smells. The resin usually concentrates in the knots and in the base of the tree. If it is cut down or felled by storm or disease, the remaining stump will usually be full of resin.
Living in the piney woods of North Florida, we have an almost endless supply of fat lighter. Besides what we find on our own property, a neighbor always saves the stumps for us when he clears land. We can start a fire with a match and a sliver of fat lighter in about 10 seconds, assuming we have the twigs and logs to lay on top ready at hand. We have at least a ten year supply right now, despite using it profligately just so we can sit by a fire on cool mornings or evenings. I priced it on Amazon and found 10lbs for $30 plus shipping. We could finance a year or two of our retirement with the fat lighter lying on our property.
But not all fat lighter is created equal. Some is richer (fatter) than others, which became quite apparent a few mornings ago as we sat there shivering in our pjs waiting for the fire to get going.
Keith actually used two small pieces. The first lit immediately with a strong bright blaze. He set it in the ashes and reached for the second. It would not light quickly, but took most of a whole match to finally start. Even then it was a meager flame. A little exasperated, he lay it next to the first piece and it suddenly shone much brighter. After a few seconds, he tried to move it away and it immediately began sputtering and smoking, but put it back by the richer piece and it once again burned brightly. At that point he simply began adding twigs, then limbs, then larger logs. It had been about five minutes and he moved that second piece of lighter back to the other side of the fire. Then and only then did the flame keep going and actually start the fire on that end. As I said, some pieces are richer in resin than others.
If Jesus were to walk the North Florida woods, he would probably tell a parable about far lighter, and the point might be this. Some of us are richer in resin than others. Some of us can burn brightly even when we stand alone. But others of us need a little help. Maybe we are followers instead of leaders. Maybe we are more timid. Whatever the reason, we do just fine when we are surrounded by our brethren, but when all that support leaves us, we sputter and smoke and maybe the flame goes out completely.
We must each examine ourselves to know what we are made of. If you cannot see, and admit, that you might not be as rich in resin as others, you will inevitably put yourself into a position that leaves you weak and alone and unable to shine the light for the Lord. It takes an awful lot of resin to stand alone day after day after day, especially when you face trials in your life. Some people have it, but it is no shame to recognize when you do not. What is a shame is to put your soul in danger. Maybe someday after you have stood with a strong group for a long while, watching how they do it, learning and growing, you will finally be able to keep the fire going on your own. In fact, that is probably the case. God expects, and allows for, growth.
And if you are good and "fat," then look out for the ones who are not. Don't leave them sputtering alone in the dark. Shine the light to show them how. Stand as close as you need to help that flame get going on its own. A piece of fat lighter, no matter how rich, is no good to anyone if it doesn't start a fire.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, Phil 2:14-15