I mentioned in a post from awhile back that the forest is my refuge. Trees are my absolute favorite and being in the woods revives my soul like nothing else.
If you've been around me in the last year you've likely heard me talk about a season in my life not too long ago when everything was dry and I really struggled to find passion in my Spiritual life. I was severely afflicted with a spirit of offense. Everyone and everything either irritated me, hurt my feelings, or went against my so-called principals. I found myself lonely, operating without a solid community, and longing to get back to where I once was in my relationship with God.
One particular day when I was struggling with intense anxiety, I set out for a hike to try and bring myself back to a place of peace. When I arrived at the nature preserve where I usually go hiking, I found that the forestry service was prepping for a prescribed burn. Just in case you aren’t aware, that’s forest fire.
Set on purpose.
For the good of the forest.
Totally counter-intuitive until you really get to thinking about it.
As soon as I saw the signs warning me about the danger of going into areas that were being burned, it hit me: sometimes the Maker prescribes a burn in our hearts and lives. The smaller, weaker parts are destroyed to become nourishment that brings new vibrancy to our souls. The healthy parts can withstand the flames and can even grow stronger from the nutrients released in the burn.
The underbrush of our lives- our sin and agreements with the world- can take us outside God’s will to a point where He has to let things get hot and hurt a little in order for us to grow again. Though pain is not his will, but rather an unfortunate aftereffect of the fall, He can use anything He chooses for our benefit and His glory. And just like I mentioned once in a post about pruning, God allows certain things to exist in our lives for a little while so that they can grow enough for us to see what doesn’t belong. When we're pruned in the spirit, or the burn subsides, we get to experience the divine design behind how He leverages the removal of anything that doesn’t benefit us for his purposes in the long run. Crazy, huh?!
Ezekiel 20 gives account of the time God gave an image of a forest consumed by fire as communication of His righteous judgment. God's anger is always an expression of His perfect justice. His discipline can cause us to be purged of our sin and as a result, we are renewed in our relationship with Him.
God dealt with me so tenderly when I was struggling with offense. The prescribed burn produced rapid, fruitful growth in me as I became acquainted with the concept of honor and remembered how open-handed community was meant to operate. I can think of so many instances when God has allowed me to be burned in order to make me grow again.
What about you? Has God ever prescribed a burn in your life? Are you experiencing one now?
Is there underbrush that has grown to the point of distracting from the beauty of the forest that is your life?
It might hurt and it is definitely unpleasant to find ourselves in a place of needing that type of discipline, but we can be assured that when our sovereign God prescribes a fire in our lives, it will add nourishment to the soil of our hearts, cause abundant growth, and create new beauty that points to the greatness of our Creator.
As always, I'd love to hear from you if this idea got your mind or heart stirred up. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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