One of the nicest things about being outdoors for more than a week was building a fire EVERY night. Being a former Eagle Scout, I take great pride that most of the fires were 1 match starts. There were some windy days.
I hate getting the wood and stuff together, but I love the warmth and inspiration a fire brings. There is something inherently cheerful about a fire crackling and dancing in the fireplace. A fire uplifts and encourages...it offers hope.
Keeping a fire burning is hard work. I had to wake up at all hours of the night to add more wood, stoke the coals, and keep the fire going, or else it would die. If the fire died, we would either have to start all over again the next morning or we would have to do with a cold start to the day.
One night, while stoking the fire and adding wood to the coals, I noticed that many of the logs I added the night before were simply burned through in the middle; where they had laid across the main section of the fire. The ends, though charred, were unburned. The fire simply ate its way through the middle section of the log, and did not burn its way to the ends.
I also noticed that once a log was removed from the fire it would go out. Coals and hot spots would burn for a while...sometimes hours, but flames were only sustained by the presence of other logs. A log simply wouldn't burn without other logs.
The parable was certainly not lost on me.
Hope, passion, love, even faith all die out if we do not have someone else there to sustain the flame with us. We need other people to help us burn our brightest and strongest. We also need that addition of new wood to keep the fire going. We cannot do life alone.
This is why church, in some form, is important for personal, spiritual growth. We need other people. We need them to encourage us, teach us, and even hold us accountable (most people don't like that part). Without being part of a church community our faith dies...like it or not.