Sparks. Over and over again just sparks. I sat on my makeshift camping chair (a large, fallen branch) for two hours striking that “flint” (a rock I found in the woods) with my steel buffalo striker, rubbing my knuckles raw, and nothing.
A week later I read this verse—one that had always puzzled me but suddenly made sense—in 2 Nephi 7:5:
Behold all ye that kindle fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks, walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks which ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand—ye shall lie down in sorrow.
I remember that feeling of compassing myself with sparks—that flash of hope you get when out of the darkness you see a brief flicker of light, and then you strike harder and harder and get spark after spark, but none of it sticks; nothing lasts.
And there’s an analogy in that, of course: all our “walking in our own light,” our self-made successes are temporary. They are just sparks. They light our life for a moment but leave as quickly as they come. They don’t catch.
After a couple hours, I had a little savior. My friend brought me charred cloth. The sparks had something to catch on, and when one finally landed perfectly on the charcoal material, the small nest of sticks and plant fiber lit up and finally, I had a fire.
Our attempts to do it by ourselves, following the sparks of our own successes, are not enough to build a lasting fire of warmth and light. Ironically, charred cloth can only be made by another fire, and so we rely on someone else’s previous fire to give us material that can make our own.
Our Savior has made that fire; he has prepared for us the material to make our own. Without Him, nothing in this life can truly catch—can truly stick and sustain us.