Friday, July 6, 2012

The Wildfire

It started as a small puff of smoke on the other side of the ridge. Visible from a few miles away, that small puff was actually deceptively large. The flames that birthed it intense. As the smoke plume grew, I knew how easily it could spread. And spread it did. From treetop to treetop, pushed by winds across the dry, parched earth. The absence of rain made for perfect kindling, as even the tiniest of sparks grew the inferno. 100 foot flames shot into the sky, blocking out the sun with their thick, black smoke. Homes destroyed. Lives uprooted. And when it was all said and done, the landscape forever charred…blackened by the relentless, disastrous fire.

And no, I’m not talking about Waldo Canyon.

Some years ago, I allowed a sin into my life that was shameful. And while I managed for many years to keep the smoke plume at a distance, the flames were tremendous. And they consumed everything in their path. My heart, my mind, my body. And I wasn’t the only victim. This fire scorched others in my path. Like innocent trees on the landscape—friends, family, strangers and acquaintances were damaged. This sin took advantage of the lack of fertile ground and spread like wildfire through a bone-dry field of starving grass. And before I knew it, my landscape had been forever changed. In my wake, I left ashen remains of who I once was. Those who knew me still stood but blackened, wounded by the flames of my selfishness.

Sin is a lot like a wildfire. All it takes is a tiny spark. One hot ember landing on the right blade of grass can quickly become an unstoppable inferno. The lack of rain—that nurturing that can only come from God’s word, will turn a once-fertile valley into a arid field ripe for burning.

The good news is, scorched earth can regrow. In fact, it can come back stronger, greener and livelier. But not without that rain. Not without nourishment.

I am so sorry for those I have burned in my past. Maybe you too, have some fires to apologize for. Maybe you still have flames that need water. Maybe you need to ask for forgiveness from those you left in the ashes of your folly. I wish I could say I will never allow flames back into my landscape. But that would be a lie. But what I can do is keep the ground fertile. Keep watering the grass with the Word that replenishes. And, when sparks land, ask for help to snuff them out before they ever have the chance to spread.

Maybe, just maybe, the landscape can be changed…and return to its once fertile state.

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