I pride myself in knowing how to build a good fire. I’m talking about a good roaring fire in the fireplace. I don’t need a stinking starter log. Or gas logs for that matter. Give me some boxes and spare board remnants and I’m good to go.

Of course the proverbial candle starter is needed. But who has time to create a spark on their own. But I still get that inner Tarzan feeling within me when building a good fire.

In 1908, the great fiction writer Jack London penned his story “To Build A Fire.” In “To Build a Fire,” London sets his main character in a harsh environment with unbearable frozen temperatures. The unnamed character sets out to find his buddies camp with only the company of a dog.

The central character of London’s story is a vain, confident and very much self assured that he has the ability to survive. This is the formula for a prideful fall.

In a few words the story revolves around four fires. Fires one and two are built for the character’s need for food and rest. The dog doesn’t want to leave the safe and warm fire. He can sense what’s coming.

Along the path, the character falls through a frozen creek and gets his lower body wet. He is forced to build a fire to dry off and stay warm. This time the fire is thrown together hastily with no thoughts or plans for the rest of the journey.

Our character’s fourth and final fire is built for his survival. At this point he is freezing and way over his head. Snow puts out his fire. His frozen hands cannot light the matches. He tries different approaches but ends up burning himself. His pride and foolishness push his actions to the point of no return. He considers killing the dog for his own survival.

Eventually he falls asleep and dies from hypothermia. The dog figured out that he could backtrack back to where the journey began.

Life lessons from this story:

1. Don’t try to be superman (or Tarzan) all the time. Do what you abilities afford you to do. Slay the dragon of pride. It only leads to a fall. Proverbs 16:18.

2. Have a plan. Don’t embark on a journey without properly knowing your SWOT. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Wrap all of this around prayer and you have a winning formula.

3. You can always start over. God is the author of second, third and numerous chances. Slay that pride dragon. 1 john 1:9.

In the time it took me to write this I had to restart a fire that I had built. It’s all good. The second fire is better than the first.



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