Every year, we have thousands of wildfires that burn millions of acres. Sometimes they are far away and don’t affect you. Others are close to home. A few years ago, in an area within a couple hours drive from where I’m from, they had a wildfire that lasted around 2 weeks, and burned over 17 thousand acres. My sister recently visited that area, and saw where the fire was, then made a remarkable statement. In just a few short years, life had started to grow back. And all that she could think about was how new life sprouts up after the death of something.
A controlled burn is a planned fire with the purpose of maintaining the health and safety of a forest. They are normally scheduled for a time when the fire will not pose a threat to the public or fire managers. Meaning the weather conditions would be right to allow burning but not enable a fire to spread out of control. Not only can a controlled burn rid the forest of dead debris, it will return key nutrients to the soil in the ashes of vegetation that could otherwise take years to decompose. This, along with additional sunlight and open spaces, enable vegetation to grow. Did you know, that there are some plants that require a fire to melt a resin that holds the seed inside so it can drop and reproduce?
At this point, you are probably going, “Wow! This is great, interesting information. But what does it have to do with anything?” Well, what if I told you that we all have these fires in our lives? Some of them happen by accident. Like the lightening strike ignites the dead, dry vegetation in a forest, starting a wildfire, something that happens in your life, that is initiated by another persons actions, that is out of your control, but it affects you greatly, and takes your eyes off Jesus.
Some of them are man made. Like someone leaving a campfire unattended, and, in their recklessness, an ember ignites the scenery around them. This would be something you made a choice on, but didn’t pray about first. Or a reaction you made as a response to the sin in your life.
Some of them are a controlled burn. This is where God, in His timing, puts a situation in your life that causes you to seek Him and rely on His strength as the only way to get through it.
No matter how they start, God uses them. Sometimes he uses them to purge your life of the things that aren’t good for you, trying to bring you back to good health and safety. Sometimes he allows them to open up spaces, and allow for new growth and new life. Sometimes, in the moment, it isn’t clear on which one He is doing. But, we can be certain that God is at work for our good.
Romans 8:28 tells us “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Zechariah 13:9 says “I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
1 Peter tells us “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (chapter 5 verse 10) And tells us “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” In chapter 4, verses 12-13 as a reminder that the fires God puts in our lives is to bring about His glory.
Because of what God’s word says, we can be sure that we will encounter fires of some kind in our walk with Jesus. Some of them are Man made, out of the carelessness of our lives. Some are wildfires made from an accidental “lightening strike” in our lives. And some, God started, as a controlled burn, to begin to clear space for new growth. If we lean on God and seek Him out through it, we are promised that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion,” in Philippians 1:6. Only then, will the fire bring about health, safety, restoration, and new growth.
No matter how they start, we know that if we lean on God and seek Him out through it, we are promised that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion,” in Philippians 1:6. Only then, will the fire bring about health, safety, restoration, and new growth.
When a fire starts in your life, know that God’s plan is to clear out the dead debris in your life, to give you nutrients you were missing, and to open up spaces to allow the Son light to allow the fruit of the Spirit to grow. Out of the ashes, God is working on something beautiful.
Let’s pray. God, thank you for the wildfires in our lives. Although we may not understand in the moment why you allow them in our lives, we know that you are working through them. We have reassurance from your word that you will not leave us in the ashes of the ruins from the fire. You promise refinement and new growth from the ashes. I pray that, when we are going through these fires, that we lean on you, and search you out, to better understand what you are doing through them. Lord, thank you for the beauty from the ashes! Amen.