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Relationships need stoking to grow

February 18, 2008

By Pastor Lyndon Korhonen, Good Shepherd Free Lutheran Church, Cokato

Over New Year’s, we were able to go to our cabin. There is a beauty in 15 inches of snow hanging on the trees and blanketing everything – even if it is below zero and takes awhile to warm up the cabin.

We went mostly to snowmobile, but one task we needed to do was burn four piles of brush and grass. With all that snow, it was prime time to burn them safely.

Two of the piles were very large (enough to make a pyromaniac drool!). They were piled in the woods for one and one-half years, since we didn’t have enough snow last year to safely burn them.

I began by removing most of the snow from the top of the pile, lest it act as a fire extinguisher and put out my fire. Then, I prepared my newspaper and small branches near the bottom on the windward side, and it was amazing to watch the fire start transferring up through the pile and start burning in new places.

Soon, I had about four separate places the 5-foot-high pile was burning, but as I took time to watch, it began to be smothered by the melting snow. So I went back to feeding my original spot with small sticks and then, larger ones.

Again I stopped to watch it burn in different places, but again, it began to die. So, I learned that when you have to battle melting snow from the top, plus cold temperatures, you need to continue to stoke that fire low down, where you originally began. If you stoke at the foundation of the fire, you get the benefit of the heat all the way up.

My mind began to think about how much we also need to keep stoking our relationships at the base. Marriages need to be continually stoked by love and respect and doing kind things – the things you did when you were dating, in order for love to continue to burn bright.

Our relationship with God needs to be stoked by spending time with Him in His Word and talking to Him in prayer. Don’t neglect those basics that brought stability to your life. The world will try to extinguish any spiritual warmth it sees in you.

Also, your relationships with friends need to be stoked by overlooking petty differences and doing kind things, lest they deteriorate to nothing but sarcasm and jabbing.

In this world, relationships do not manage themselves. If you want a strong, stable, growing relationship, you need to continue to manage it and deal with those influences that try to put it out.

Proverbs 17:17a says, “A friend loves at all times . . .” Yes, we need to love in our relationships if we want them to maintain warmth and stay strong. Remember to keep stoking those relationships at the base, and you will enjoy the warmth they bring.