“…..there must be no failure. When it is seventy-five below zero, a man must not fail in his first attempt to build a fire…..”
In 1908, Jack London published his short story, “To Build a Fire.” A man strikes off across the frozen Yukon as temperatures are plummeting, eventually to seventy-five below zero. He falls through some ice, gets wet, and builds a fire. However, because he makes a careless choice for the location of his fire, snow-laden branches deliver the death-blow to his flames. The man freezes to death—end of story.
As a former Boy Scout leader, I’ve spent many nights around a campfire. They can be a challenge to start. The official Boy Scout procedure goes something like this: first, gather some dry tinder, then some small seasoned twigs and then some larger pieces of wood. Strike the match, set the tinder on fire, and gradually feed it the small twigs. As the flames grow, add the larger branches. Over the ages, our ancestors have started fires in this same way. Fire brings warmth, cooks meals, and provides protection. This God-given element has helped us survive and subdue the earth.
Successful fire-building all goes back to the dry tinder; that is where a fire must grow. A match, by itself, will do no good. A match and firewood will do nothing. The match must be brought close to the tinder. The embers must be gently fanned into flame.
This paints a picture of what God calls us, as Christians, to do. He brings a flame—the Holy Spirit and salvation—into our lives. As a result, our lives (God’s tinder) bring warmth to those around us—sometimes creating a fire in their lives. Dry tinder lies strewn about us. It’s everywhere. These are the people God brings into our lives. We must get near them, get close to them. Fire must touch the tinder for the flame to spread.
People ready to receive Christ move about us everyday, surfacing throughout our lifetime. They might be our children, nieces, or nephews. They might be our friends, coworkers and churchgoers. Look around you. There are people ready to be touched by your passion and testimony—by the Spirit who lives within you. Find them—seek them out—and allow the Holy Spirit’s flame in your life to touch theirs. Jesus lived out this model before us. He set 12 men on fire, and the flame continues to spread.
John Wesley said, “I set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn.” Many watched and many were set aflame. Who have you set on fire lately? Pray that God reveals the dry tinder.
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”