When my husband and I were dating, he would drive all the way from Upstate New York to Indiana, then to Oklahoma. After his very first road trip to the bustling metropolis of Oklahoma City he made plenty of jokes about how backwards Oklahoma is- you know, the usual “So do you guys wear shoes down there?” one-liners. But one thing that struck him as particularly funny was a road sign he had seen on I-44 onthe stretch between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. It read “Do Not Drive Into Smoke”.
“Why on earth would someone need to be told not to drive into the smoke? And why would there be smoke on the highway in the first place?!” He joked. I explained that we live in a state that has a high danger of fire during certain times of the year. I went on to explain that occasionally, landowners purposely light fires. He looked at me like I was crazy.
It had never occurred tome that maybe other states didn’t have yearly bouts with wild and grass fires. And surely everyone set their land on fire annually, right? Maybe not. I explained to him that many landowners would set fire to their own land and let it burn very slowly in what’s called a “controlled burn”. This process kills off all the dead grass and allows nutrients to reach the soul. This makes for lush, thick grass and fertile farming soil for the next planting season. It makes perfect sense. Sometimes you have to set fire to something and let it burn before new things can grow… So it is with our souls.
Often we begin to neglec tour proverbial gardens. Vines grow here and there. Thorns spring up. We ignore them until these pesky, unwanted weeds begin to choke the rest of the garden. They begin to take over our lives until there is nothing left but a dry, dead, pile of twisted briars and thorns. It’s too much to handle with clippers. You can’t simply prune it back as you once could before. These weeds threaten the future survival of any living things that could potentially grow and drastic measures are required. So finally you take a match- one small match, and drop it into the tangled mess that your life has become. Slowly- or maybe not so slowly- the treacherous weeds begin to burn away. The heat is intense- stinging your eyes and nose, singeing your clothes- but you allow it to burn on and on until there is nothing left but dust… For a fleeting moment you begin to think you’ve made a mistake…how could anything possibly hope to grow here in this barren, scorched wasteland? But God is once again atwork… He makes all things new… and thisis the moment you begin again.
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us…
When is the last time youlet God set your heart on fire?