Over the past few days the people of Fort McMurray, Alberta have had an all too close encounter with a fire like the one above. News reports indicate that all the 80,000+ people who live and work there have been able to make their way to safety, leaving their homes, businesses and most of their personal possessions behind and not knowing if anything will be left when the fire is out.

A few environmentalists have been quick to blame this disaster on climate change. Let them talk, a little more hot air isn’t going to make any difference at this point. The truth is that fire has always been nature’s way of rejuvenating the boreal forest. The protective covering of the seeds of coniferous trees can only be opened by the heat of a forest fire.

A fire such as this must be a terrifying experience to live through. But at least all have lived – there have been no reports of deaths so far, and at least one baby was born in the midst of all the confusion. People will soon begin rebuilding their lives, and their city.

Around them, the forest has been scrubbed clean of all old, weak and sickly trees, the accumulated debris on the forest floor is gone. The liberated seeds will sprout and soon a new forest will appear, young and green. This is nature’s way, it has been happening as long as there has been a boreal forest.  Perhaps the way to prevent a massive conflagration like this one would be to conduct periodic controlled burns in small areas at a time, during a season when the woods were not tinder dry.

This fire is a tragedy for the people involved, yet some beautiful memories will linger as people help each other, sometimes risking their own lives to ensure no one is left behind. The people of Fort Mac need our prayers as they start over again and try to build something beautiful from the ashes of their dreams.

The Bible appears to tell us that our belief system needs to be tested by fire from time to time. As long as our faith is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ we will survive the fire. The precious things that have come from God, the gold, silver and precious stones, will not be damaged by the fire. But perhaps, in a time of stress or pain, someone has offered a comforting interpretation of Scripture that is a little off the mark. Or perhaps we have heard some touching stories that we have added to the structure of our belief system. There is much “Christian” literature that mixes truth and misleading imagination.

These things could well be the wood, hay and stubble that our Lord wants to burn out of our lives. Will we let Him? That would leave us with only those things that come from Him, things that are unchanging, things we can depend on to help us make it through our journey.

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you . . . For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (1 Peter 4:12; 17-18).


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