Restorative FireBy Danielle Kelly
November 13, 2020
Last month, I took a leisurely stroll through Dixon Prairie located inside of the Chicago Botanic Garden. I was intrigued by an outdoor label titled, Restorative Fire. It read, “Fire races across the open prairie-sparked by lightning, spread by wind, and fueled by dry grasses. Native prairies are not hurt by fire. They need it to survive.” Each year during dormant seasons, a portion of the prairie is intentionally burned when the plants aren’t actively growing. These regular fires remove dead plants and stop invasive trees. Without the fires, the prairies would suffocate. The fire clears what is dead allowing the prairie to quickly regenerate.
2020 has brought a number of fires racing across the open fields of our lives. Suddenly sparked by what seemed like unexpected lightning (the Coronavirus) but quickly fanned by strong winds of social injustice, political division, job loss, a slowing economy, and other fierce winds. The thick clouds of smoke blur our vision causing us to look around in horror at what once was on the surface. Things we held dear but didn’t realize were dead and invasive. Things that were suffocating our prairies and suffocating our relationship with the Lord. The heat may seem unbearable but we are being pruned by the Lord. He removes every branch that doesn’t bear fruit and prunes every branch that does bear fruit so that it will bear more fruit (John 15:2).
Restorative fire creates and cultivates the soil for fresh growth. The fire helps to maintain a healthy ecosystem and prairie plants have learned to adapt. Christ’s death on the cross has made new life available to us but He wants to continue to cultivate our soil for growth. He allows fire in our lives because it is vital to our survival.
How do we learn to adapt to the fire?
Our seeds require exposure.
Exposure to sunlight and warm soil temperatures are essential for seeds to sprout. Fire clears away plants that shade the soil.
None of us like it when the Lord allows hardships and trials into our lives. I have often resisted the fires of trials and tried to hide under the weight of things that I knew needed to be cleared away. I have grown comfortable in the shade of dysfunction and darkness. Exposure to the Light (Jesus) can be painful, scorching tender parts of our soul but it is essential for seeds of godliness to sprout in our lives. 1 John 1:5 says, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
What areas of your life are you allowing to remain in darkness? What needs to be cleared away in order for your “seeds” to be exposed to the Light of Christ?
Our buds must be protected beneath the soil and deeply rooted.
Prairie plants are able to survive fires due to their buds being protected beneath the soil. These buds have extensive root systems that easily send up new shoots.
We often don’t survive the fires of life because we don’t allow ourselves to gain the protective covering of the Lord and connect to His root system. This year has exposed the toxic soil that I have run to so often for protection. I have sought covering in relationships, self-sufficiency, and worldly wisdom only to quickly find out my roots were shallow and I was left exposed on the surface. Christ’s rich soil provides us a safe refuge, His armor, comfort, peace, healing, presence, and strength. When we allow our buds to link to His root system, we become like a tree planted by streams of water that yield its fruit in season (Psalm 1:3).
What are you currently seeking shelter in? What are your roots linked to? How can you start to graft your roots into Christ’s root system?
As believers, we must learn to adapt and build resilience in these seasons so that our prairies will be filled with abundant growth. We must welcome God’s restorative fire.
I Need The Church by Becky Willey