be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an
ensample.”- Phil 3:17
It was an
early Sunday morning. The air had the feeling as if it could snow at any
minute. In an uncustomary manner, my morning devotional was actually upon the
steps just outside the front door of our church, Rock Springs Baptist. There, I
opened my Bible, journal, and thermos, pouring a hot cup of coffee to accompany
my communion with the Lord. Before beginning, the steam from the coffee caught
my attention. Swirling from the depths of my cup, the vapor rose, swirling as
it ascended, like a spirit rising to meet our maker. On my walk, the
bone-chilling air had eventually found its way into my very core. Taking a sip
of the hot, bitter brew, I could feel the warmth invade my body, slowly
recapturing that which had been nearly frozen.
then the similarity hit me; the steam; the Spirit, warmth of my body; us
accepting Christ into our hearts.
passed and broke my focus for a moment. Taking another sip, I closed my eyes
and prayed. The sound of the vehicle dissipated, and soon, the voice of the
John’s river began to speak, which lay just beyond our church’s parking lot.
The soothing sound and the warmth of my coffee began to erase all the toils,
and struggles of the week as the hand of the Lord wrapped his arms around my
being. As I exhaled, my breath made another pathway of steam into the air. It
was then the thought of how much better coffee tasted when you were partaking
of it out in the open, especially on a cold, winter morning. In fact, the more
I thought about it, the more everything seemed to taste better when eaten or
drank in the outdoors, where all that was man-made was removed, and you were
one with the elements; purity begets purity.
mind turned toward the devotionals on my Sunday morning hikes to church and how
they always seemed more powerful, more meaningful than those of which I partook
every morning before heading up the mountain while sitting in my home. It was
as if the materials of man’s creation removed, allowing for a purer experience,
a cleaner connection to the Almighty if you will.
had done it; allowed myself to find something of God in merely drinking a hot
cup of java on the front steps of the church.
mind took a quantum leap, back, many years to my youth.
was covered in snow. It was the dead of winter in Indiana, a place where Boy
Scout Troops wouldn’t cancel a camping trip for the weather, regardless of the
conditions. Fortunately, the camporee was at a camp where our tents were the
heavy canvas permanent type built on wooden floors; surplus from a not so distant
war. It was Friday night when we arrived. The routine was that we were to build
a fire and then cook our supper while we made camp. From experience, we knew
that in this weather, the fire was the key to everything; warmth, food,
survival. Yet, everywhere we looked the snow had covered everything; not one
stick of firewood was left untouched. Everything was either frozen or soaked
with water. Knowing that we might face a challenge for which we may not fair
too well, we began to build our wood in preparation for a valiant attempt,
nonetheless. By good fortune, one of our patrol members found an old mouse nest
in a hole in one of our tents’ floor. Thankfully, we shoved the dry tender in
amongst all the other shoots of Sassafras, Cherry, and Pine, knowing that once
the moisture burnt off, we would have the start of a roaring fire. One of the
patrol leaders went to the cook box to find matches. When he returned, he held
open the small cardboard box, with the little drawer, pulled out. The look on
his face said it all. With a look of shock and dismay, we all quickly realized,
there was just one match left. We gathered round, each of our young faces had a
look of fear and anguish. One of the new scouts almost began to cry, “Oh no,
we’re going to starve,” he stammered as tears welled up in his eyes.
not,” I bit back, the steam from my mouth shot into the air like a blowtorch.
“You have to have faith. We’ve been through tough times before, and if anyone
can make a fire with one match, it’s this patrol.” Ricky, the Scout Master’s
son, who was also my good friend, stuck up for me at that moment, and reiterated
what I had just conveyed.
“You gotta trust us man, if anyone can get a fire going, we can make it happen.
We’re going to show them all, with one match, we’ll keep this fire going all
There, he had done it; Ricky had unknowingly made the vow that we would all gladly
have given our last breath to uphold. It was an unspoken word of truth and
honor, nearly as revered as the Scout Law.
like marooned sailors on a deserted island, we made all the preparations and
double-checked each other’s work to make sure that the one match would work.
Then, with a shaky hand, someone struck the match. The smell of sulfur and
warmth filled the space before us. Immediately, we all gathered around, holding
our hands as a shield to prevent any breeze from extinguishing our flame before
it could take. Slowly, the flame touched the old mouse bed, and steaming smoke
began to spread through our pile of tender.
breath,” Ricky commanded.
stood, feet in shivering in the snowbank that we had created digging out the
fire pit so that it would be clear of any moisture, and watched as the smoke
seemed to almost disappear. The skeptical scout almost began to whimper once
more. “Have faith,” I breathed again.
if prayers had been answered in unison, a flame nearly 12 inches tall leaped
from the center of our woodpile. Smiles spread across our faces as we older
scouts looked and nodded at one another. The younger scouts then realized they
were with someone who would take care of them.
weekend happened to get so cold, below zero, that they made us stay in the chow
hall one night, for fear we might freeze to death in our cots. Meanwhile, we
had stoked and prepared our fire, so that no matter how long we were gone, it
would continue to keep a hot coal bed. We needn’t fear that the fire would
spread since the ground was covered in almost a foot of snow. So, unlike other
times when we would have to put out a fire when leaving our campsite, that
particular weekend we were allowed to keep it going. Memory also recalls that the
other patrols had not been so lucky when trying to strike their fires. More
than one patrol visited us that weekend to warm themselves because of their own
inabilities to keep a fire going. We learned a lot about ourselves in the
process, not only that we had possessed a knowledge which provided for our own,
but that we were able to pass on this to others while sharing with our neighbors.
I don’t remember
anything else about that weekend, other than our parents came to stay with us
the night we stayed in the chow hall. But the one thing I do recall, even to
this day, was that by the time to pack up Sunday evening to head home, we had a
fire that had never gone out. Meanwhile, other patrols had problems just
getting theirs started, let alone able to keep them going.
struggled through adversity, but already in our young lives, having experienced
hardship campouts before the one just mentioned had allowed us to have faith.
It is the same in our walk with Christ. Those who are new to the faith struggle
with knowing that the Father is with them always. By providing them examples of
our own steadfast faith, we can give them the courage to face the struggles in
their own walk.
Apostle Paul had faced many trials and difficulties in his life once he turned
to serving God instead of persecuting Christians. He was an encourager to
others in the faith, and with confidence, not arrogance, as brother David said
this morning, he told his disciples to ““Be ye followers of me, even as I
also am of Christ”
He had faith enough to know that if they were to become believers, that they
would have to have faith in what he said and to know that through believing
him, they too would come to know Christ.
had faith, they would find the love of Christ working in them, warming them, imbuing
them with the Holy Spirit, lighting the flame within and starting the fire.
Like that hot cup of coffee and a cold winter day, God envelopes you with His
Spirit and warms your very soul.
as I begin to climb the mountain, either figuratively or physically, I ask the
Lord to help me find my way. Each day, he answers me in the most unexpected
the river speaks to me, and a song begins to play in my head:
stood at the foot of a great high mountain
That I wanted so much to climb
And on top of this mountain was a beautiful fountain
That flows with the water of life
down on my knees at the foot of this mountain
I cried, “O Lord what must I do?
I want to climb this mountain, I want to drink from this fountain
That flows so clear in my view.”
heard a sweet voice from the top of this mountain
Saying, “Child put your hand in mine.”
I started climbing slowly, “Watch your steps at the edges
And take one step at a time.”
climbing upward taking one step at a time
The higher I got the harder I climbed
climbing upward and my journey’s almost ended
I’m nearing the top and you ought to see the view
Oh the water flows freely, there’s enough to make you free
So friend, if you’re thirsty climb this mountain with me.”
gospel of John, Jesus said on the last day of the feast, “If any man thirst,
let him come unto me, and drink.”
may or may not be my last days, the harder I climb, the more beautiful things I
see and reveal, seeing with eyes anew. From walking in faith, although I will
never achieve the level of the Apostle Paul, I can, with deep conviction share
with others that with faith, all things are possible. In sharing that belief,
may it light a spark within their own soul, one that will make within them a desire
to seek Him.
spark, a fire can be built, and with it, the light of life can begin
particular campout of which I shared earlier was one where our parents were
invited to come spend a night camping with us. It was one of only two times
that a parent of mine came to a campout. My mom, of all people, came to stay
Saturday night. She, along with the other parents, stayed in the chow hall with
the rest of our troop. Looking back, I wish I had done more to interact with her,
but it was a treat just to hear her voice talking to the other adults and to
know that someone who loved me was present. Now that she is gone, those few
glimpses of the past are ever more precious.
with the other parents, more than likely had no idea of our fire struggles, but
rather, took it in stride that we had learned how to survive and were doing
well enough. I don’t remember anything else about that weekend, but the one
thing I do recall, even to this day, was that by the time to pack up Sunday
evening to head home, we had a fire that had never gone out.
of this, we can surmise that we are a constant work in faith. We may never
achieve the level of faith of an Apostle Paul, but we can share our testimony
with others, and with that, provide them the knowledge that they are not alone.
Through our faith, shall we lift up others, and in the end, give them hope of
from the coffee cup, the Holy Spirit will warm us through and through, and our
walk of faith will continue to grow as we climb that final mountain and drink
from the eternal fountain.
Corinthians 11:1 KJV
Ralph Stanley, Great High Mountain, lyrics © Bug Music, Z77ss, Z77ss Music
John 7:37 KJV