Living in the middle of a National Forest has its advantages. The lovely scenery, quiet solitude and the awe-inspiring awareness of being in the midst of God’s creation all add to the beauty. However, the other night I was beginning to wonder if living in the forest might have a few downfalls. You see, every few years various Forest Services throughout the country use prescribed burns in an attempt to control wildfires, insect infestation and create changes necessary to maintain a healthy ecosystem. We were warned that they would be burning but what surprised us was the amount of smoke. My children none the less loved all the excitement. They watched as men dug a fire line behind our home the day before. They went outside and waved to the helicopter, hoping for a chance to end up on the nightly news. They were awed by having to cover their faces for all the fire and smoke. But as the day wore on so did our enthusiasm. Eyes began to water, throats became sore from all the coughing, and our home begin to fill up with smoke. By midnight our home was completely filled with no means of relief. So my husband, being a great provider and protector, said “pack a bag, we’re leaving”.
The next evening as we drove back home we could still see the fires burning and they continued to burn for several days afterwards. My children did what all curious children do; they asked questions. “Why do they have to burn the forest” was the most prevalent one. As my husband answered them I began to think about the times in my life when the trials of fire have come. “Lord, must I go through this,” my heart cries. Yet, His Word is always there to answer. “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (1Pe 1:7) The process of refining gold from ore is to use extreme heat in order to separate pure gold from the other elements. And God uses the same process of refining His children. You see, as a believer it’s very easy to claim Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” But we must not forget the following verse. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”(Rom 8:29) I must remind myself that the goal is to be “conformed to the image of his Son.” God wants me to be conformed into the image of Christ. This is why He tells us to be holy, for He is holy. It’s a work in progress that will one day be complete when I step into glory. But until that time God is working in my life, sometimes using extreme heat to separate the pure from the other. So maybe after all living in the forest has more advantages then downfalls. For even when the fire comes and the smoke fills our homes it can be a reminder that God is working in our lives for good. Just as the fire is good for the forest to purify and cleanse it, so can I rest assured that God will use fire in my life for we know that all things work together for good to them that love God and who are called for his purpose…..to be conformed to the image of His Son.
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” (1Co 3:11-13)