Monday, April 11, 2011

Burning for Green

One of the benefits of living in the country is being able to burn brush piles. It's often a family event for us, and it's also when many families pull out the dawgs and roasting forks for an impromptu weeny roast. Sometimes, though, the brush piles aren't burned out as much as they're thought to be. That's when surprises happen.

This happened at a house we pass several times a week on our way to church. One evening we went past and the burn pile they'd been gathering was burning. The next morning we passed again. Three quarters of their yard was black. The remaining quarter was still winter-brown. Once I saw the fire hadn't gotten too close to their house and out-buildings, I chuckled at the surprise they must have woken up to. (We've had a yard fire and field fire, so it was a sympathetic laugh. Honest.) I felt bad for them—they'd have to look at a black yard for weeks to come.

Within a couple of weeks I was reminded of one of the benefits of fire. Their yard was still duo-toned, but the black had turned into a lush, beautiful new grass green. The unburned quarter was still stuck in winter-brown. Their fire had burned out the old dead growth and made room for the fresh new growth, which came quickly.

Many times in my life I've gone around gathering brush that needed to be gotten rid of. Things that had overgrown and I had trimmed back. Things that had died and were no longer part of my life. I'd gather those things, throw them on the brush pile and then burn the brush, leaving my life neater with less 'stuff' laying around.

Building and burning brush piles is something we all need to do from time-to-time. Many of us even look forward to burning those brush piles.

But what about when the fire spreads? What about when the fire burns the yard we've spent hours manicuring? The yard we want to look nice because it's what everyone sees when they drive past our lives. Do we weep and wail? Do we rant at God for putting us through the fire and leaving us black?

John 15:1-11 is all about this pruning. God has a purpose for that fire in our lives.
...and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it my bear more fruit. ~John 15:2

Just as the yard that quickly turned from black to green, our lives will burst into fresh color and productivity once the old dead growth is burned away from our lives.

Fires don't get away from God. He controls the fire. He uses the fire in our lives to make way for new growth.

Growth that can bear fruit for Him.

My father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
~John 15:8 NAS

Finding the Extraordinary God in our Ordinary Lives


  1. I did not know that brush fires were allowed! Here in Southern California, that is an air polluter! When we do have brush fires, the blackened hills grow such lush growth!

    I think I am going through the fires now with my job. I just pray my "growth" will be so nice.

    Good analogy!

  2. I've seen yards burned on purpose for that very reason - to make way for new growth that otherwise would be choked out by the dead thatch suffocating it. What a visual of God's work in our lives. We sure don't welcome, or enjoy, the fires, until we see the outcome. May we learn to be as thankful IN the fires as we are AFTER them.

  3. Around here, alternate blueberry fields are burned
    about every other year for renewed growth.
    Thanks for this post, Peej!

  4. Great analogy, Peej!
    Holding out my arms...Burn it, Lord!! (and pass the soothing aloevera of Your Holy Spirit, cuz I'm gonna need it!!)

  5. Your visual of "burning for green" is so clear. We surrender the things we select for the fire and, when necessary, God completes the task with the deeper sweep of flames to purge the source. He's God. He can do that. His love is the fuel and the Comforter provides the healing balm.

    Thank you, Patty, for another powerful picture. God Bless.

  6. Yes, Lord... burn out the dead grass that I don't see. "Create a new heart within me."

  7. Our fire season began early here in the mountains - they are not issuing burning permits now BUT the ones who did burn (accidentally)are starting to green up while the rest of the landscape is brown still. However, one fire area from last year is still black - drought....

  8. Wonderful, Patty! Yes, Lord, burn out the old and refresh and renew!

  9. Thanks, friends. I think it's time for me to start building a brush pile--I have a lot of things laying around hindering and maybe even stopping the new growth.

    Love you guys! You're such an encouragement to me!
    Hugs all around.

  10. Wonderful analogy, Patty. The experience isn't always pleasant but the results are spectacular.

  11. LOVE this analogy. The blessing of the burning is easy to miss - until it bursts out. Great stuff!

  12. Three weeks ago my house burned and it has been a traumatic experience. I am trying hard to keep a good attitude because I know God has a purpose in it. Yet sometimes I need reminding that there will be new growth from the ashes.

    Thank you and God bless you and your blog.

    Jackie Smithwick

  13. This is wonderful, Patty. Just wonderful. And I'm so sorry, Jackie. My thoughts are with you.

  14. Patty, you took a simple illustration and gave a beautiful spiritual lesson for us. Thank you

    So sorry Jackie--prayers being lifted for you.

  15. Heart-prayers for Jackie. May you and your family experience God's miraculous peace and miracles plus His amazing sense of HOME right now.

    This post hits me at a particularly appropo moment as I start over after publisher declaring bankruptcy--new ISBNs and everything. But I love looking at it from the "pruning" and "burning undergrowth" point of view. Thank you so much Patty!

    Blessings on you, your writing, your family and all the friends who benefit from your God-given wisdom!




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