This rugged terrain has become dear to our family, as we have all enjoyed the spectacular night skies that first drew my uncle to this particular part of the world. We have many times gazed at the constellations wishing Ray was there to explain to us exactly what we were seeing. My sons called the land home for some months. They cycled through the mountains and grew food on the land. They called the locals friends. It was with a sick feeling in our stomachs that, from many miles away, we watched it burn.
Months passed and the fires had long since been contained before I made a trip out west with some trepidation about what it would look like. When I arrived in the veil of darkness, it looked no different. The next day, though, a leisurely drive would reveal exactly where the fires had burned. A trip up Skyline Drive in the park revealed blackened trees and burned-out structures. But it revealed something else.too.
Where the fire had not burned, the grasses grew high and were brown in color. Where the fire had burned, grasses of the brightest and most vibrant shade of green were just beginning to appear through the earth. Though the end of a drought-ridden summer was approaching, the land took on a spring-like quality. The rebirth was in full swing, and I was an eyewitness. From a mountain of dead and blackened foliage, I looked down into a valley with sprigs of green. With hints of hope.
At times, fires have raged in my own life. It seems the winds will not quiet long enough to contain them--they burn out of control. Then finally, they burn themselves out and there comes the quiet aftermath. Where it seems all hope is lost and all I see in front of me is a pile of rubble. I am overwhelmed. But then, I call to God and he is near. Amidst the charred remains, He shows me a sprig of green. And then he multiplies that green until all signs of fire are gone. My soul has been refined and I run through a vast field of the thickest and most beautiful grass I've ever seen. I take joy in how it feels beneath my feet. And I laugh! It won't be forever, I know. There will be other fires. And though they won't leave me unscorched, I know this. Every single time, I will emerge stronger and more lovely than before.
As I was driving home from my trip out west, I began to hear reports of wildfires raging within an hours drive from my home. I was so thankful for what God had shown me just days before. This is the hard part, I thought. The painful part where all we see is devastation. This is the time when it is hard to give thanks. But through it, we will all learn how to give. To reach out to others. To love more and better. We'll have no choice but to trust. And soon something green will emerge in the midst of black. And then we will remember to be thankful. For we will have been refined and once again made lovely.