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