As I’ve mentioned before, Doug and I have a “real” fireplace for the first time in our married life. It has been an enormous blessing to have this winter for heating purposes, but also for thinking purposes. It’s amazing how God teaches me through everyday life.
Through the course of the winter, I’ve learned a lot about managing a fireplace insert.
A big, blazing fire is pretty, but it’s not always effective, especially with a fresh fire. Also, the bigger blazes can burn through wood pretty quickly without really putting out much heat.
Leaving the door on the vents open can make a nice blaze, but, well, go back and read the first bullet point.
The best thing in an insert is a nice, hot bed of coals. This – at least for our insert – produces the highest level of heat whether there’s a good blaze or just a couple of logs slowly burning.
The best way to achieve that nice bed of hot coals is to start the fire the day before it’s really needed and then just keep it burning.
Closing off the vents can suffocate a badly arranged fire, but it can strengthen the heat of a good fire with a hot coal bed.
Just a small “handful” of hot coals can restart a fire in mere minutes.
With the doors closed, the best of slow-burning fires might seem like they’re going out. So, we mess with them when we really should leave them be!
Every analogy breaks down at some point, but the coals have really made me think. In our spiritual lives, fires are crucial. We need to be burning hot and productively. But, far too many times our spiritual fire is far to similar to the huge, blazing fire that doesn’t produce much heat and burns out quickly. We seem to have a lot of energy and drive for a short time, but in the end there’s no real effectiveness. Why? Because there’s no good, hot bed of coals to keep us going even when the blaze dies down for a while. Once the blaze is gone, so is the fire.
Our spiritual life should more greatly resemble that hot bed of coals. Sometimes it’s blazing high, fed with all the fuel and oxygen it needs. Sometimes is just glowing red, maybe not even noticeably, waiting for a vent to be opened or a few sticks of wood to be added.
Either way, though, it’s productive. Always producing heat. Always bearing fruit.
Jesus gave us a command in John 15 – the command to abide in Him. It is that abiding that keeps the bed of coals producing heat – that keeps the branch bearing fruit. It is that abiding that keeps us ready when we need to blaze up. And it keeps us from dying out completely when it seems that our fuel and air are low.
I desire to be a bed of coals, hot and ready at all times to bear fruit while the embers are low and to blaze up when He builds me up again. Will you join me?