Renewed by fire

The prairies and forests of North America were ecosystems that depended on periodic fires for renewal. Most of those fires started from lightning strikes. The fires were beneficial in a number of ways: the build up of dead wood and plants was removed, most invasive plant species could not survive the fire, and the fire burst the outer shell of many plant species and allowed them to germinate. The fires were not hot enough to destroy the root systems of grasses and other plants; thus, burned over ground was quickly carpeted in green.

Human intervention to prevent such fires has not had an altogether positive effect. Useful species disappear for lack of fire to prepare their seeds for germination; invasive species prosper. The build up of deadwood and plant debris can lead to hotter and more serious fires when they do occur. Many fires today are the result of human carelessness.

I have begun cleaning the accumulation of useless papers and various small parts and gadgets out of my office and find myself wishing there was such a quick and simple method that could be used here. Unfortunately, the ecosystem of my office is something that I have created and I will have to be the one who cleans it.

When it comes to my spiritual life, I have found that the fire of God works much like a forest fire. I do not need to fear God’s fire, as it will not burn that which is truly good. Only the deadwood and trash will burn; things like bad attitudes that I have carried around as useless baggage, and really evil things like lust, pride, greed, anger and deceitfulness.

Often we pray for revival and wonder why it does not come. Is it perhaps because we are unwilling to let all those useless things burn in order to make room for God’s graces to germinate and grow in our lives?

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