The Many Faces of Family - July 2019
Log in the Fire
By: Guest Author Ellen Towry
My sister Molly was having a well-deserved retreat with the His Whole House Team in the mountains of Colorado and I was only a 2-hour drive away! Before her arrival we had both agreed I’d visit her on the last couple of days following it.
I have benefited from the unique Prayer Ministry these team-members had developed and know the benefits of a team retreat.
When I first heard of the teams’ retreat, Molly shared their intentionality to focus on their relationships as this group, and this kept resonating with me as a theme. Even again, when “the intentional goal” was challenged in the middle of the retreat that it might be more convenient for me to come up earlier; Molly took my request, presented it to the team and they had to re-evaluate their ”intentions!”
They lovingly declined the interruption and I felt almost relieved. I was truly and quickly assured in my spirit that my original time to visit with Molly was right. Then, I heard it again - “intentionality”, but this time - HOLY Intentionality I thought. It reminded me of Ecclesiastes wisdom that there is a time for this and a time for that. :) GOD was at work!
It was cool enough for a fire and I caught the excitement in her voice in saying, “We can build a fire too” as she bent down to pick up the kindling and grab an old magazine for tearing. I watched and supposed Texas living hadn’t required the skill of building a fire in a fireplace. The “kindling” was actually twigs with bark still attached and I asked if there was an axe for splitting dry logs into pencil shavings but there wasn't. We had to make do. It was a struggle to light the fire with poor kindling and the glossy coated magazine paper we were burning which carried its own risks (creosote build-up and toxic chemicals), but we made it work, just taking a wee bit longer I reasoned.
Twenty minutes passed as we continued the frequent returns to the small teepee of burning kindling. It demanded a dozen times of tending, bending and resetting. We were running low on matches and the question of putting the first log on the struggling fire kept coming up. “Not yet” I clamored remembering the many fires I had smothered from moving in too soon with a demanding, big - dry log. This thought resonates now in other ways as I recognize that like a small fire, I smothered my share of small beginnings.
“Can I take it from here and tend it tonight?” I said, to which Mols said a hardy Oh, Yes, my sister! “I’m a beginner and grateful for your fire making skills”. The other folks who had stayed at the house but gone home earlier that day also had many years in the art of fire making and Molly shared again her gratefulness of my having those same skills.
Not having an axe, for the next size of kindling I really needed, I made do with the next best log. Positioning it to allow the flame directly under it and the air around it, my goal was to let it burn in one spot while the flame lasted.
Then, regularly turning the log to blow off accumulated signs of ash and see where my first embers had begun on it, I’d carefully stir the hot embers starting to build below, knock off ash and add more small kindling.
It was this routine which grew the volume of glowing embers below the “log” and kept the flame and heat directed to the most vulnerable spot on the log.
Eventually, the log caught fire and the only action I had to take was to occasionally blow a little breath (oxygen) on the embers collecting to re-ignite the flame again. I noted it was kind-of like God does on His already willing people/servants/beloved children. Then, they’d brighten to their brightest glow and start to flame, again.
Then, as if to address my earlier impression of “intentionality”, I reviewed the steps I’d been taking in this fire tending. I noticed that without complaining, but with an almost urgent willingness, the most vulnerable spot on the log was lending itself to be fully and rightfully consumed and all it eventually took was encouragement of a small but gentle wind of air. It seemed to have a life.
This action would allow for the eventual foundation of enough heat and kindle to consume further logs. When I’d take the log out and look again into the growing embers, I could almost hear it sing, “I am my most beautiful”, it was delighted to yield to this God-given lesson of new purpose and these embers were its demonstration.
As this single log was broken open, right in half, new pieces of embers began falling from it and now many pieces were stirred into new positions by the metal poker. There was no weak spot in the log to speak of anymore. Everything had changed with the log.
With renewed vigor, I continued chopping away with the poker and stirred the chunks of hot coals (embers) across the entire area of the fireplace bottom. Fully broken open (but not fully “spent” yet) the fireplace became ablaze and could further receive two more full logs!
Quickly I shared my revelation with my sister Molly.
The kindle of fire was fully known when embers were engaged (by air) and the first log broken open and spread to share their pieces.
The first log was the key and in yielding to being fully “consumed”, then became the fuel for the entire service: a fire can bring in warmth, light and being fully consumed for the benefit of the other.
The first log represented a lifetime perhaps. My life and how what seemed like pain and slow developments finally dawned on me to be a “proper position” from which I can serve God and give my all, willingly.
What a lesson in God’s economy of living out our purpose as His ambassadors.
Together, with my sister, we praised our Lord and prayed, “Oh, God come break us open that Your work in us might be spread throughout the whole earth and bring others to be lite for Your purposes in the earth!