Jesus used the campfire for His most intimate conversations. There are some of you who have been aware of this truth for a long time, for me it’s just been the last few years.
It’s the 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 the home fireplace. No matter where you were when the flames drew you in, it was almost always a time of reflection. Conversations were deeper, richer, real.
Most of the time when I camp or spend time in the woods I set up a campfire. We clear a spot, set stones around it. We go out and gather wood, we stack tender first then sticks and then logs. The process can be daunting at times if the materials are not right. But it (fire) is as important as the tent or a sleeping bag, maybe more.
At my regular Tuesday night men’s group we almost always have a campfire outside before we get started. It is funny how the guys all act around the fire. You have the Boy Scout who is structured and stacks and adds wood in a set pattern. There are the good ole boys who just drop on logs and don’t really care how they fall as long as it hits the fire. There are the stompers and the pokers. The stompers are always stepping on logs, kicking them, pushing them around with their foot. The pokers have a stick to prod, move things around. They tend to swing the burning end of their poker around a bit. Throw in a few “flashers”, they like to throw on dry Christmas trees, leaves, hay, anything that would cause a flash flame. There is also the stand-byes. These guys are content just standing alongside without any need to step, poke or add to the fire.
I know lots of women like a nice fire but few love to be stained by the smell of burning wood. My wife does not even want me to come into the house if I smell like I have been around the fire. But I love the lingering scent of the firepit. For me, if you could get it in a spray or a roll on cologne I would own it. “Man in the Woods,” “Oak Smoke,” Fire Pit Deodorant.” All good. I guess I would spend a lot of time on the couch, but I would smell great!
In the old and new testaments we are given lessons on living and presenting the gospel to others. In the new you find Jesus, a master at communicating His Father’s Words and desire when He spoke. He was intentional and set up the lessons in a way that the person listening would understand.
One thing that Jesus chose was to spend a lot of time outside. His life did not include miraculous transporting from one place to another. He could have done anything. He could have had slaves carry Him from town to town, a chariot, a camel. No, He chose to walk with His band-of-brothers. His whole life was this way. The three years we know He was on mission He walked a lot. Miles and miles of walking day after day. Dusty roads, gravely paths, rocky trails up and down the hill sides. Rain, heat, breezy, windy, daylight or maybe even night. He had to be a rugged, strong man to just travel the way he did.
Back then there were few covered roadside stops, Cracker Barrel restaurants or hotels. The bathrooms were outside, the resting areas were outside, and they usually ate outside. The whole adventure from one place to the next was outside. Along those roads, those nights He was with His trusted men, most every night they camped. They would pull off the side of the road, collect sticks and wood as they set up for a campfire. They would pull out some bread, fish maybe lamb. They wood drink a bit of water or wine, eat what they had and rest. Sitting there staring at the flames. Listening to Jesus, talking with Him. Imagine that, it was real.
I have to believe there were some Boy Scout types in the group. There had to be stompers and pokers. “John, get you foot out of there you are going to get burned,” Doctor Luke would say. “Man I built the best fire I ever built, “Mark would say. James would say back, “it was a girl size fire until I added those logs on there in the right order.” Thomas would arrive late and not believe any of them even built the fire they stood by, “no really who built it,” he would ask.. Men being men as they are around a campfire.
Can you imagine the intimate conversations they had with Jesus. The depth of their friendships. At the end of the book of John Jesus comes back to see His men one last time. They find him waiting for them lakeside with a small campfire, fish cooking over the coals. He forgives Peter, he encourages the others, hugs them, laughs maybe. Then He is gone.
In almost every survival book the building of a fire is crucial. Intimacy with other is crucial in our lives. Conversations at a deep level are part of growing in our relationship with Christ. In KOZ we highly recommend that each group has a fire going at their Saturday meeting. We know what happens at the campfire.
If it has been a while since you spent serious quiet time with Jesus, your friends, your family, go camping. Take one night, maybe two, pack up and head out. Build a nice fire, bring some comfy chairs, sit and watch the flames. Pray on your way there for Jesus to speak to you, to your group, He loves to be invited in. You don’t have to prompt Him, He can speak without words. Jesus loves us and wants to spend time with us. He loves a good campfire too.