The smell of wood burning, the soft crackle of the fire in the night, the warm glow that makes shadows dance across the faces of those around the fire, and the heat emanating from the source. It’s a campfire. Texas TV. Most of you have spent some time there, in a folding chair, staring at the dancing flames. Maybe it was a huge bonfire on the beach somewhere. For some, it might just be the winter flames in your fireplace at home. No matter where you are when the flames draw you in, it is almost always a time of reflection. Conversations are deeper, richer, and more authentic around a fire.
Growing up, my dad took my brothers and me out hunting multiple times every fall. My favorite part was getting to light the campfire and hang out “with the guys” until late at night. I remember being treated equally while sitting around the fire listening to the other guys tell stories of their “bucks that got away” and of them falling asleep in the deer stand. I also distinctly remember being taught how to perfect the art of making s’mores.
Recently, I was reminded of the power of being around a campfire with close friends when a group of men came for a camp tour. They shared that about ten years ago, they came here on a retreat as participants with another group of guys. Thanks to the power of removing distractions that comes with the territory of a campfire, bonds were formed between these guys that have helped them love, support and care for one another throughout the years.
Even Jesus shared quality time around a campfire with those closest to Him! This story comes from the end of John, the final encounter between Jesus and Peter. Peter and some of the disciples had just fished all night and were coming ashore with their big “last minute” catch. John’s gospel tells us:
So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” – John 21:9-10
In this simple gesture and in the conversation that ensued, Jesus reminded Peter to be a servant. Jesus, the King of Heaven, could have waited for them to reach the shore, commanded a fire to be built and food to be prepared. Instead, Jesus the resurrected Lord, was still being a humble servant. He already had a warming fire going and fish prepared for them.
It doesn’t take much to light a fire and invite a friend or two over. As the weather continues to cool down, take the time to think of someone you can invite into your own backyard for conversation, cocoa and, of course, s’mores. Pray that the Lord would use that time with your friends and neighbors to create space for open dialogue to share how He is working in your life!