In this blog series, Pastor Kevin Dixon shares his memories and lessons learned from growing up in Minnesota where winters are long and sometimes severe. So many of those life lessons are relevant to the COVID-19 crisis and “Safe at Home” way in which we find ourselves living now. This entry is the sixth in our series.

When the energy crisis hit in 1973, the price of oil skyrocketed. So, people started looking for alternative ways to heat their homes. Our family bought a wood-burning stove. It was a perfect fit for us because my dad had three live-in workers—my two brothers and me—who he did not have to pay.

We spent several weekends a year cutting down trees, piling them, drying them, hauling them, cutting them into about 18-inch lengths, splitting those, stacking them, and then carrying them to the basement. We went through about 8 to 10 cords of wood a winter. This was a lesson in hard work.

I learned not just how to cut wood, but also how to start and tend a fire. My brothers and I would take turns being responsible for the fire. The worst thing was when the fire went out in the middle of the night. Cold mornings suck. We learned that there was a way to get the fire to last through the night. Right before bed, we would load the stove with wood—not just any wood, but a combination of different kinds.

There was fast-burning wood and slow-burning wood. For example, oak was a good, slow overnight choice and made great coals. Most hard woods worked for overnight. But hard wood was harder to get, so we had less of it. That meant we had to use it judiciously, which led to that combination. We would choose larger, hardwood logs interspersed with smaller, fast-burning types. Then, by closing the damper a little to reduce airflow, we could get a hot bed of coals that lasted all night long. If we did that just right, the family would wake up to a warm house. If not, we would feel the cold in the early hours of the morning.

Warm fires on cold nights were a bright spot in the middle of the winter season. I actually loved building the fire. I enjoyed standing by the stove and listening to the flames crackle and roar. It was warm—actually hot—very comforting and soothing. During this season, where are you finding comfort?

The disciples needed comfort, and Jesus reminded them.

John 14:1 reports him telling them:
Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.”

In a season of winter, we need to remind ourselves of truths. When we are troubled, concerned, or just need a good word of truth, remember that Jesus is trustworthy. It is soothing and comforting on the cold nights of our lives to remind ourselves of Jesus’ trustworthiness.

During this season, when your soul is troubled, place your trust in the warm heart of Jesus and the ever-present fire of the Holy Spirit. You will find rest and peace there.

Kevin Dixon is the Executive Pastor at Journey Church in Brentwood, TN. He is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield IL.

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