Standing Outside the Fire
I heard a story once about a pastor who went to visit the home of a church member that had not attended church in quite some time. When the pastor arrived at the door, the gentleman received him kindly and offered him a seat by the fire. As is often the case, the gentleman remarked that he suspected that he knew why the pastor was there, and began to apologize for not being present with the community of faith. The man shared about the busyness in his life and the recent struggles that he had endured, and finished by sharing that perhaps far too many Sunday mornings he really just wanted to stay in bed. Hearing all of this, the minister just sat in peaceful silence, looking into the fire. Wondering what drew the pastor’s gaze, the gentleman also peered into the fire.
After a few moments, the pastor took the poker that was next to the fireplace, and moved one of the brightly burning logs away from the main body of the fire. Both men watched as the separated log continued to burn brightly for a time, until eventually the fire that had once consumed the log slowly began to die. In just a few minutes, the once radiant piece of wood had been reduced to a dark and lifeless log. The men sat in silence for a few more moments before the pastor once again picked up the poker and moved the log back into the fire. The log remained as it was for a time, dark and lifeless, until seemingly out of nowhere, one corner of the log began to burn again. In the span of a few short minutes, the entire log was ablaze, looking as if it had never left the fire.
The two men continued to stare into the fire together, until the gentleman turned his gaze toward his pastor. Reaching out his hand he looked his minister in the eye and said, “I’ll see you Sunday.”
Isn’t it interesting how willing we are to believe that we don’t need other people…or that other people don’t need us? Someone once said that 90% of life is just showing up. If there is any truth in that statement, perhaps the truth lies in the fact that community really does matter. When we forsake our connections through community, we find ourselves in very real danger of losing the relationships that help to make life worth living. If your fire has started to go out, then make a decision this year to step back into the communities that matter. If you do, I bet you’ll be surprised at how quickly life rekindles again.
Dr. Matthew B. Scraper