I am the proud owner of a fire pit. It was actually my wife’s idea. Our deck was rotting and when we replaced it she decided that a fire pit would be a wonderful addition. She was right. It has been a great place to create memories for our grandchildren.

When the grandchildren are over, and I even hint at lighting a fire in the pit, then faces full of hope turn toward my wife with a single word. S’MORES? And since that word works like magic on my wife, I head to the backyard to look for sticks.

I have logs, but before logs will burn I need to find some sticks. I will put a pile of sticks into the fire pit and then the logs because sticks are much easier to burn.

Actually, it depends on how long they’ve been sticks. Sticks are things that used to be branches. Branches are almost impossible to burn because they have too much life in them.

If you’ve ever tried to snap a branch off a healthy tree you will find yourself in a wrestling match you will undoubtedly lose. A healthy branch clings to the tree with everything it’s got. The longer a branch is connected to the tree the stronger it gets. If you do get a branch off a tree you will find it almost impossible to light up… at least for a while.

A stick is a different story. A stick is a branch that’s been disconnected for a while and has become dry and brittle and very easy to burn.

Jesus says we are all spiritual sticks or branches. If you are a branch, then you cling to Jesus with everything you have particularly in the midst of a storm. The longer you cling the stronger you get. But if for some reason you begin to disconnect yourself from Jesus, you will slowly but surely become a stick. And being a stick makes you vulnerable to almost anything.

Being a pastor gives me a bird’s eye view sometimes. I can watch as people slowly disconnect from Jesus. I have watched as they become drier and drier, and then it’s only a matter of time before the fire starts somewhere in their lives.

Jesus says we are all either sticks or branches. Be a branch.

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in me and I in him bears much fruit. If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them in the fire, and they are burned.” – Jesus (John 14:5-6)