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home : religion : religion November 22, 2019

10/13/2019 12:11:00 AM
Beneficial Fire
Charles R. Swindoll — 'Life is  10% what happens to you and  90% how you react to it.'

Charles R. Swindoll — 'Life is 
10% what happens to you and 
90% how you react to it.'

Rev. Susan Smith Walker
Emanuel Reformed Church

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

This is the season for forest fires in California. Dry conditions coupled with high winds mean that the tiniest spark can start an inferno that burns uncontrolled for days or weeks, destroying everything in its path. Wildfires are frightening and we pray for those in their path now as they prepare for another season of destruction. As horrible as wildfires are, nature uses them in beneficial ways. If people did not live near these areas where wildfires are common in fall, it would be easier to be grateful when their season comes. Why would we be grateful for a wildfire?

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This passage above from Ecclesiastes says that there is a time for everything, and everything has its season. While it may be painful to see the destruction of a beautiful forest, it helps to remember that God created the ecology of a forest to have many cycles, and fire is a necessary season. Fires don’t usually wipe out the whole forest. They open the forest to allow more sunlight to reach the ground and this benefits plants that could not get established in the shade. The fire gives them a chance to grow. Fires clear out clutter and break down nutrients from old logs, leaves and dense undergrowth to make the soil more fertile. Some seeds can only sprout after a fire.

After a fire, new life springs quickly from the ashes. After a fire comes a season of growth and change that leads to a new forest. The forest goes on, adapting, striving, and maturing until the next season of fire comes when the cycle starts all over again.

We too experience seasons of destruction in our lives that feel like wildfires. The fires of illness, bitter disputes, financial crisis, failure, relationship problems, loss, and other kinds of trouble can be beneficial to us when they burn away the meaningless clutter in our lives and help us become fertile ground for new spiritual growth. These seasons of living fire can leave us changed and ready for new possibilities to spring forth like a Phoenix from the ashes.

We may suffer while the fire is burning but no fire burns forever. If your life is on fire now, hang on to the parts of your life that are not burning, and remember that all fires go out eventually. Life will go on, and for God’s people, a new season of spiritual growth will spring from the ashes.

Rev. Walker is the pastor of Emanuel Reformed Church and she can be reached at 828-962-8196 or

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