Updated: Feb 19, 2020
We drove through the mountains-- the ominous, heavy, gray smoke in the windshield. Neon road signs warned of an active fire. As we approached the green, pine-covered mountain sides turned black and empty. Naked, scorched trees stood in the ashes of their bark and limbs. Acres and acres of black earth. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was sad, and striking. That’s when I heard her say, “You know, fires have to come so that new trees can grow. The pine cones need the flames to release their seeds. Without the death of fire, there wouldn’t be new life.” My mind grabbed ahold of that truth. God promises redemption, life, hope, and He not only speaks those words, but He reminds us in the way that He designed His creation.
I thought of the recent season I was finally walking out of, and the new one I was making my home in. I thought of how my heart had felt that same heat not so very long ago. Fire had come and my mind felt scorched and wounded. The hills seemed to illustrate how I had been feeling. In the ashes, I also saw the new season I was in. The season of “after." The fire had come, and then came the "still." The desolation, still present even though the flames had died down. I thought of how those trees still stood--- the earth eerily quiet and calm. They stood, but they no longer looked like they once did. The heat had changed them forever. Dead. But the Bible says that God is able, and dead things need not stay dead. The Redeemer, The Potter, the Holder of Tears comes in and repurposes those painful flames. The devastation; not so devastating when He is the One developing the outcome.
In every “forest fire” there are pine cones. Pine cones with thick shells that are literally glued shut with a hard resin-- a resin that can only be melted by heat-- heat that frees the mature seeds from their shelter and distributes them by wind and gravity. There are others yet that are filled with seeds that can’t germinate until fire touches their shell. The seed laying dormant for years, waiting to be awoken by flames. Seeds that will grow in the ashes of its former home. The death brings the life. The destruction brings the growth. The end brings a new beginning. The desolation carries a new hope. God did that. God, in the beginning of the world created a seed to come to life from a death. He created a seed that tells my heart “There will be purpose. There will be something new from this. There is beauty growing in the ashes. He will not allow pain without allowing something new to be born.”
I knew the “stillness," the season of waiting I was enduring. But I knew that there was growth and new life and hope blossoming in the burnt things. I knew the smoke was lifting. I knew that God was able to take my eyes off of the ruins and focus them on the blooms. There was a new thing coming. I would never be the same, but that’s ok. There was life in my ashes. God was working even when I couldn’t see it yet. God was working while I was waiting.
We drove past those burnt hillsides, and eventually the smoke didn’t burn our eyes anymore, eventually there was green pine covering the landscape. As we entered Yellowstone National Park, we passed a sign that made me gasp. In front of a forest of vibrant tall strong trees there was a wooden sign with a dedication carved out. "Naturally reseeded by wildfire in 1988." There was life-- beauty. Hope had been fulfilled. Fire was a necessary good even when it didn’t seem good. Fire literally planted a new forest.
Again, creation tells me, “Trust God!”. The God that carved out that purpose for His creation can do that in our lives. We are created things too. He knows the seeds that He is bringing up. He will bring them to fruition. He can redeem every lost cause. He is a Master Re-purposer. He will never waste a single pain. He is able.
ARH Staff Writer