A Burn Under Control

Oh, lovely springtime, what is so fair! But…

So many things show up once the snow is gone. We have a lovely, tree-filled yard, which means we need to walk around before mowing the lawn and gather up odd branches the wind has brought down. Some trash often drifts in and catches in the tall grass, too.

A controlled burn can be a very useful tool to clean up all this debris. This spring, however, our RM has put on a burning ban because of dry conditions. We heard in the news a few weeks ago how one town in Sask suffered loss when a “controlled burn” got away and consumed half a dozen homes. (Thankfully most of these were unoccupied.)

Last night when I went out for a walk the air was hazy in spite of a strong wind and I caught a faint whiff of wood smoke. Sure enough, a look online shows a forest fire raging out of control in the northern part of the province. It’s hard to picture any benefit coming from an inferno like that, yet scientists say an old forest needs a good fire. It does for the forest what a clean-up fire does for our yard: gives the land a chance to rid itself of dead wood and breathe again; lets the forest get a new start. Otherwise there comes a time when a forest chokes itself.

Between our yard and our neighbours, there’s an “old” woods. The original trees, planted a hundred years back by the first settlers, are dead and ready to fall down. A lot of new growth has sprung up since, but so many young trees are twisted or crushed when their elders drop thick branches on them. And when those big old trunks hit the earth, it takes many years for them to decompose.

It would be so beneficial if a fire could sweep through and consume all the dead wood, but leave the living. And more importantly, leave our and our neighbours’ homes intact! Since we know that isn’t going to happen, both of us couples hope and pray no lightening strike or careless cigarette starts our woods on fire. There’s so much ready fuel, none of us could control the damage.

The Bible talks a lot about fire, both in a destructive sense, where God destroys the enemy as if by fire, and in a purifying or enlightening sense.

“Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire.”
Deuteronomy 4:36

Thoughts of God’s fire tends to scare me, though, because it’s not a thing I can control. I can’t tell him, “Yes, I’d like to get rid of this bit of attitude, burn this fault out of my life, but leave the rest of my habits alone.” He sees all the trash that needs to go, not just the little bit that’s causing me embarrassment. He sees all the dead wood in the heart of the forest, not just the bit I can spot from where I stand.

Though we can’t govern what God’s fire will consume in our lives, the good news is, HE can. He may select trash (like bad attitudes) that needs to burn out of our lives, but our God is merciful. He leaves all the good wood to keep on growing. He may burn the wood, hay, and stubble, but he leaves the silver and gold.

“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.”
Hebrews 12: 28-29

In every life some matches will fall. Trials come to those who believe in God and those who don’t, to those who choose to live a Christian life and those who don’t. Living in this world along with other human beings guarantees that flames will pop up from one source or another. Unkind words or discrimination may burn, health or financial woes may flare up.

These troubles aren’t always the result of a direct action on God’s part, sent because we have need of major refinement. But God can use any fire to purify us. If we give our lives into his keeping, He can control any burning so that it doesn’t damage us beyond hope of restoration.

“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour…” Isaiah 43:2-3

5 thoughts on “A Burn Under Control

  1. We live in a woods too. Not too long ago, we met a guy who needed wood. We had a woods like yours that badly needed thinning. He came and thinned and took the trees. It vastly improved the woods. I wish he’d come back and take some more trees! They do keep growing.

    Fire is not an answer when your house is in the actual woods. But a woodcutter who wants the trees … now THAT is an answer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment. I agree that a woodcutter would be the perfect answer. Unfortunately, the trees we have here on the prairies (at least in our woods) are poplar and willow, neither make good firewood, Especially when rotten. About ten years ago someone did harvest some trees from these woods and said they weren’t worth the effort.
      Hardwood trees are not native here and only in the past 30 years or so have species been found that will stand up to our meager rainfall in summer and -40 degree weeks in Dec.

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  2. Thanks Christine for these good thoughts, especially the one about us not being able to control God’s fire. I know I can get comfortable with “little” faults but God knows what needs to go. And we have to rely on His mercy and wisdom and let them go. (Good to “see” you again. I’m trying to get back into the swing of things)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for leaving your comment, Bill. I noticed a post come through from your blog a few days ago and want to come visit you soon. I’m really glad to see you posting again — I was wondering if health issues were a problem.

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  3. Thanks Christine. Thank the Lord, there are no health problems. Just got too busy and sidetracked. I retired the first of the year and you’ll see when you visit, I’ve made the theme of my retirement “Break up your fallow ground.” Writing, including the blog, is one area of fallow ground.

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