The crackling fire sweeping through dried grass may burn out quickly, but the smoke and ashes linger much longer. And the scarred landscape tells the tale of the fire’s destruction long after the fire has died.
The same is often true in our lives.
But to stop my musings there is only the first part of the story. Too often, I’m so consumed by the pain of the fire of difficulty going on, that I forget to look at what happens after the fire.
Earlier this spring, I found myself scowling as I drove past a picturesque farmhouse. The graceful hill that gently sloped toward the road was scarred by 4 huge ugly squares of burned grass. Those patches of black stubble stood out like an eye-sore, where the previous summer had grown a lush flower garden.
It reminded me of seeing burnt fields after my first miscarriage. And realizing that God has woven a “life out of death” theme throughout nature. In John 12:24, Jesus speaks about a seed that falls to the ground and dies before it can produce a harvest of new life. The beautiful flowers on a tree give way to fruit as those delicate flowers wilt and drop to the ground. The microscopic flakes of skin we shed are replaced by new healthier cells. The grass that is burned turns into nutrients for the new grass that will grow there. Even in a rotting old tree that falls to the ground, life blossoms in the form of opportunistic mushrooms, algae, and even smaller plants. It is almost as if all of creation is weeping as it says, “Everything dies. Nothing lives forever…” But then declares triumphantly through its tears, “But God has ordained that life will spring anew! Take hope. Even though death is the law of this world, new life is also a pattern in this world.”
I believe God has given us this theme in creation as a vibrant echo of Jesus and the way His death on the cross opened the opportunity for us to have eternal life Life through Him. It also reminds me that the death and loss we experience in this world is not the end. For those who trust Christ, in heaven we will get a new body- a glorified one, much better and without the pain and sickness we endure here.
“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Hebrews 9:27-28
Just the other day I drove past that same farmhouse, and it was a healing balm to my soul to see what had become of those burned out patches of dry grass. The squares that had experienced the fire still stood out, but now it was because they were covered in lush grass far greener than the surrounding hillside.
As I look back, I see times that felt like a burning down of everything I held dear. This current season feels also like more burning, as my health recently took a turn for the worse with a severe flare of my food allergies.
I don’t see how this will end. But I do see what happened to those humble patches of grass.
So my prayer is for God to bring me out of this season that feels like my heart is choking on smoldering ashes, and teach me to dance for joy again. But until He does, my plea to Him is that this experience would not be wasted. I want to be able to look back and see that I have grown more and been nourished more by God because of this current trial. I want to be that patch of grass that is greener for having gone through the burning fire.
That’s what the Bible speaks about, but it’s easy for me to forget. It’s easier for me to cling to the good things I want and say with Rachel, “give me children or else I’ll die.” Genesis 30:1 Oh Lord, let my prayer instead be, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” Job 13:15
God allows these things into our life, knowing the pain and also knowing the outcome. He’s the Perfect Gardener and He does not make mistakes. May we wait to see what He will do, instead of refusing to look beyond the ashes left by the fire.
“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” 1 Peter 4:12-13