I love a fire. Not that I’m a pyromaniac, but fires in the hearth were part of my childhood. They take me back to family Christmases and a smoke-filled lounge.

Our new home has a chimney, so we decided to install a wood burning stove. In preparation for the arrival of “wood burning stove installation man” I stripped the wall paper and removed an innocuous piece of wood.

As the piece of wood came away, I paused. Looking more carefully I saw a gap between the upper and lower parts of the chimney breast. It should not be there. The higher part of the chimney was completely unsupported. How long it had been hanging there is hard to say, but it must have been many years. At any moment it could come crashing down. The piece of timber was inadequate, but I shoved it back in place until “wood burning stove installation man” (WBSIM) arrived.

WBSIM was suitably appalled and dashed off to retrieve supports from his van. The frame in the photograph was rapidly installed, he built some brick columns, and we all breathed easier.

Sometimes things happen in life that expose our lack of strength.  Our faith seems to be inadequate to the challenge.  We might reflect on this Proverb, “If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!” (Proverbs 24:10 NIV11).

But we do not need to be victims of our weakness. Instead, we can be grateful that it has become exposed – for then we can find the strength we need. At the risk of stretching the metaphor we need the spiritual equivalent of WBSIM – the Holy Spirit. He it is that supplies us with hidden strength. I do not know how to build chimney supports, but someone does (WBSIM). I may not know how to find the faith I need, but the Spirit does.

The next time you discover that collapse is more likely than stability, why not go to God in prayer and claim this promise, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV11)

Malcolm Cox