Friday, March 28, 2014

After the Fire: A Lesson from the Redwoods

It’s fire season where I live in Colorado. Our state often suffers from less-than-average snowfall so the land in very dry.  

Most likely you heard about the Black Forest Fire last year, or the devastating Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012 that moved stealthily over the foothills and into our city (see photo). Most everyone in Colorado Springs can tell you exactly where they were when the news of that first devastating fire destroyed hundreds of homes and business in the northwest part of town.   

Fire can be devastating. And after it’s over, the landscape shows some trees that are completely destroyed while others are left standing—yet these once flourishing trees bear the markings of the disaster by their missing or charred limbs. 

It makes me wonder how the giant redwood trees in California have lasted for almost 2000 years.  We know that California’s had their share of forest fires, so how are those giant trees still standing?  

Recently, a friend told me about the redwood’s unique ability to withstand fire. First, their branches are about 100 feet and higher so the fire cannot reach them. Most importantly, these enormous trees do not have a certain flammable resin on their bark like most other types of trees.  That factor makes them mostly fireproof. 

If a fire is very hot, however, flames will burn into the trunk. But the tree immediately begins to repair the damage. After the fire, the tree grows a thicker bark around that area to cover over the burned portion.

Like these grand, tall trees, we need protection to keep us from “burning up” emotionally when the fires of anger, criticism, fear or doubt surround us. 

The evil one shoots his arrows (of lies and deception) at us and, if we are not protected, we will be hurt. We can become more protected as we put on the full armor of God and live in His presence and protection. Ephesians 6 in the Bible’s New Testament explains: 

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:14-17, NIV).

We need God’s protection against the rampant lies and half-truths in our culture that seek to destroy marriages, tear apart families and keep people shackled to discouragement and hopelessness. As we read the truth and seek to live it out, we get stronger on the inside. We have more joy. 

We need God’s strength in us to live godly lives with courage in a world that depends more on self and less on the One who created us and loves us most 

God never said life would be easy, but He said that He would be with us. That’s a relief.  

With God’s power and his close presence we can rest in His protection.
Jackie M. Johnson is an author, freelance writer and book publishing consultant in Colorado. Previously, she worked at the premiere literary agency, Alive Communications, and the CBA-publisher, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. Visit her website.


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