Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tending Our Fires

Living off-grid and using wood heat is a lesson unto itself. There is
much involved. You have to buy or cut well seasoned, dry firewood,
knowing what types of wood puts out the best heat. Your wood supply has
to be more than sufficient to get you through the season. You must have
sharpened chainsaw, ax, or other method to cut & split the firewood to
the size needed. Firewood needs to be stored in such a way that it is
protected from the rain, ice, and snow to keep it dry. You also need a
supply of kindling or fire starters. In the home, you need to maintain
the stove and chimney. Keeping the chimney cleared of any built-up
creosote to prevent a chimney fire is vital. Your wood stove's firebox
needs to be checked to make sure it is in good condition, as well as any
indoor sections of stove pipe. The seams in the pipe have to be checked
for any smoke leakage through a small test fire.

Once everything is ready and the temperatures dip down, you start using
the wood stove. Whether you use it for heat or cooking, the fire has to
be tended and maintained. Using our kitchen cook stove as an example,
it has a small firebox. The stove heats very well, but needs wood added
to the firebox every few hours to maintain the hot embers. If the fire
goes out and the kitchen cools down, it takes a bit of time to get the
kitchen warm again. If the wood you bring in from outdoors is too damp
from rain, ice, or snow, the fire takes even longer to start. If the
wood wasn't protected and became saturated in a rain storm, you may not
even be able to light the fire. It all takes careful planning and care
to keep the fire going and the kitchen warm. I often use the wood
cookstove to prepare meals in the cooler months. A constant fire is
needed for this. Again, it takes maintaining the wood supply to keep
the stove hot enough to cook as well as heat the rooms.

Let me paint a scenario for you. You stock the stove very well at
night, but sleep deeply enough to not stock it during the night. In the
morn, you awaken to a stove with only tiny embers and a bin of damp wood
to get the fire going again. It is still possible to get the fire lit
and heat the room again. However, the amount of effort you have to put
into it is much more than if you had maintained it all along.

How often do we treat our relationship with our Lord as the above
scenario with the wood stove? We begin the relationship by lighting
that initial fire, stocking it as needed to keep the relationship
going. Then one night, we allow ourselves to figuratively "go into a
sleep" instead of tending that relationship. We grow complacent or
become distracted from our spiritual journey with the Lord. Sometimes
it is a conscience choice, but often it isn't. Just as we can go to bed
with every intention of waking to tend the stove, only to sleep through
the night, we can sometimes "fall to sleep" in our relationship with God.

Think on the parable of the 10 virgins. All had lamps that were filled
with oil and had trimmed wicks when they started out. Only half had
extra supplies to get them through the night. The others were
complacent and had not stayed alert. Which one describes where you are
in your relationship with God? Are you diligent in your efforts to
build and nurture your relationship? Or are you simply content and
growing complacent with the efforts you have already put forth?

Our spiritual relationship with God is much like a fire that needs
constant tending. Not the the Lord needs us to continually tend and put
in an effort for His sake. We need to do it for our own sake. We need
to continually seek Him out and make Him a vital part of our lives. He
is always there. It is us who need to turn towards Him and answer His
gentle call to us.