The Log That Wouldn't Burn

March 9, 2013
by Diane Eaton

Hebrews 3:13 – But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. (NIV)

One more log should do it, I thought, as I grabbed a log from the wood stack. A few smouldering embers were flickering in the fireplace. Normally, I would have let them die out; but a guest was coming shortly, and I decided that one burning log would create a cozy atmosphere without making it get too warm.

That's not what happened. Instead of bursting into flame, the log smouldered … and smouldered. It turned black and produced smelly smoke. Perhaps it was a bit damp, and it might have burnt well if it had been surrounded by a blaze of burning logs. Finally, I removed it and threw it outside in the snow. It had become a useless black lump of charred wood.

People can be like that log. For some reason, they can't ignite into a fire of love. We've all encountered those who emit more "smelly smoke" than warm love. It's tempting to criticize them and pull away from them. They disturb us. But that merely makes it harder for them. Perhaps they are bogged down with anxieties, resentment, shame, or guilt. They may have known little of love in their own lives. Maybe they have become hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

As Christians, we do not have the option of tossing such people aside, like I tossed the log into the snow. The unlovable person is still our neighbour, and we have a duty to draw alongside of such people and offer a flicker of Christ's love through our warm, hospitable presence.

Perhaps we see ourselves as the log which couldn't burn. We get discouraged, thinking, I just don't have what it takes. So we isolate ourselves and don't bother trying, assuming that we will fail or be rejected. It becomes our habit. But in doing so, we deprive others of what God Himself would like to do through us. Love, after all, comes from God and burns within us as we immerse ourselves in His presence.

Love is much like fire. It ignites and grows in an environment of relationships which exude such qualities as patience, forgiveness, empathy, generosity, and encouragement. That's the place where "damp logs" can get dried. It's where injured people can be healed and forgiven, and then flourish with gratitude and love. That's ultimately how the glory of God touches down in our world — through people ignited with His love.

Herein lies our God-given purpose: to become logs burning brightly together amidst people who have become bogged down with coldness and darkness.

Prayer: Lord, thank You that You don't toss us aside when our flame dims and smoulders. We thank You that in Your mercy, You invite us to open our hearts and renew the spark of Your love, so that we can radiate with the qualities of love. May that become our one burning passion. Amen.

About the author:

Diane Eaton <>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks Diane.

    Wonderful analogy Diane.

    Good message, Diane. Thank you for sharing.

    Thank you for “igniting” us with your devotional this morning, Diane.

    Amen Diane and amen. May we all blaze with Christ’s light warming the world. Blessings.

    Truth indeed Diane, for Love is the engine oil which enables Holy Combustion!

    Thank you – this is another ‘Daily Devotional’ that I will be sharing more widely than just my weekly group but with email friends who have been there when ‘my fire’ has been low and needed rekindling.

    An excellent illustration and reminder of our duty as Christians.

    Dear Diane: Thank you for your words of inspiration today.
    My name means “fiery one” or I would prefer “A light bearer of the truth of God’s word to all who will listen”.

    Hello Diane
    Just a note to say thank you for your thoughts in today’s devotional. It is a great reminder for all of us that we are to love and care for those around us. Thanks again.

    Hi, Diane! I read your devotional today and was really touched by it. We have a son who has autism, so I have a webpage entitled “Normal is A Point of View”, where I do some things about autism, some just to encourage.
    I would like to post your devotional (attributed to you) one day.

    Your message this morning has hit home. It is so easy to turn aside from those who are determined to douse our flame. But as you have pointed out, they may be the exact ones God is putting in front of us to encourage and pray for.
    Thanks for contributing, and sharing what God has shared with you for the edification of all His servants.

    Dear Diane,
    Your devotional reminded me of my time in a tiny village in B.C. where our only source of heat was to burn wood. I well recall those logs that had been so long at the bottom of the wood pile that they refused to flame up. Your submission today really meant a great deal to me and I liked the way you associated the wet log with Christians who do not bring the warmth of the Christian life to people.
    Keep on writing!

    Good Afternoon Diane:
    A wonderful message teaching us not to get bogged down by the trials, temptations and heartaches of life that we often face and endure today.
    Sometimes it is hard not to be “smelly smoke” when things around us seem to much to bear, however, as you assured us, loving Christ and knowing Him personally and laying our burdens at His feet can cause our “damp logs” to become dry allowing us to burn brightly and display our gratitude and love for the Great Creator even when things are tough.
    To quote you, may we never forget “herein lies our God-given purpose that we become and remain logs burning brightly together for our Lord amid people who have become bogged down with coldness and darkness.” May we light the way through God’s eternal grace for them.
    A great message.

    Dear Ms. Eaton,
    Thank you for the great message. How true it is. Very meaningful.

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