Forest fires are fearsome things.
They can lay waste to hundreds of square miles of mature trees and displace wildlife. If they spread to areas of human habitation, they can raze buildings to the ground and devastate communities.
And yet, fires can play an important role in nature. Trying to suppress them too drastically can have a negative effect on the ecology of the forest.
It can backfire, so to speak.
Take the giant sequoia, native to inland California. This majestic tree can live for thousands of years and grow to a height of almost 300 feet.
You’d think that protecting groves of sequoias from fire would help preserve them. But sometimes when we interfere with the natural cycle of fire and regrowth, we do a forest no favours.
The suppression of fire during the last century by U.S. land management authorities actually hobbled the sequoia’s ability to survive. Its seedlings can only grow into mature trees if competing plants are regularly eliminated by low-level forest fires. (The sequoia’s spongy bark helps protect it against fire.)
Not only that, the cones of the sequoia require the intense heat of a forest fire in order to open up and release their cargo of seeds. If the surrounding ground has just been cleared of competing vegetation by fire and enriched with the resultant nutritious ash, the seeds are given an additional leg up to grow.
So the sequoia can only grow to its impressive grandeur with the help of fire.
Perhaps the same is true of us.
We tend to want to suppress negative elements in our lives. We try to avoid challenges, make life as smooth as possible, and eliminate stressful things.
But what if in so doing, we’re removing the very things that can help us reach our highest levels?
Sometimes it’s the fire of adversity that can bring out the best in us.
If we remain unchallenged and avoid difficult things, we may never rise to the greatness that God knows we’re capable of.
At times, God might take us through a fire, so to speak, to ignite something good in our lives:
The fire might bring out leadership qualities in us that we didn’t know we possessed.
The fire might clear out things that have been competing for our attention and help us focus on what’s essential.
The fire might give us new opportunities to help others.
The fire might kick-start exponential growth in our character,
The fire might make a hero out of us.
So let’s be brave as we face adversity. After all, we know that God has promised He will be with us through the fires of life.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2)
And who knows what new growth will arise from the ashes of our old life?
© 2022 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.