I told this story on Sunday, October 23rd as the Children’s Sermon. I thought that like all good stories, it bore re-telling.
When my mom was a little girl, her house didn’t have electricity. They had to light a fire to stay warm, cook their food and heat their water for bathing. Because my mom was the oldest of eight, she had the important chore of checking the fire. It was an important job. One morning, she opened the door of the wood stove and saw the fire had gone out! She quickly went out the back door and called her dad in from the tobacco field where he had been working since before the sun was up.
“Daddy, the fire is out!!”
While she waited for her father, she went over to the woodpile and picked up as big a stick as she could lift, so when her dad came in the door, there she stood fixin’ to throw that log into the wood stove.
“Whoa, there!” my papa said.
“But the fire is out, Daddy! Mama and the babies are gonna freeze!” (My mom is rather dramatic.)
“Elizabeth,” he said, “the fire’s not out. I banked the ashes to keep the coals from going out. The fire is there, we just need to tend it.”
She again hoisted that big stick up and again her father said,”That big a stick will put the fire out. What we need is kindling – we will use those small sticks – the ones you and your brothers pick up in the yard- to slowly catch the fire. And then, after awhile, that fire will be a-blaze.”
You see, my mom thought that when she couldn’t see the fire, it must have gone out. But really it needed re-kindling – that careful work of putting small sticks in to the coals, that quiet work of sitting and waiting for each stick to catch hold of the spark, that slow work of not rushing to put the large pieces on too soon.
Our faith in God is like that hidden fire. Sometimes it looks and maybe even feels like its gone out, when really it needs some tending with small and patient attention. I wonder where you are in this story. Does your fire need rekindling? Do you need patience for the work of rekindling? Do you need reminding to put down the big stick and look for the small sticks along the way? Whatever the case, I invite you to spend some time this week, tending to your fire. I intend to do the same. Blessings – Lynne