Monday, January 30, 2017

Salted With Fire




'Everyone will be salted with fire’ Mark 9:49 NIV.

Preserving, seasoning, and healing—that’s what comes to mind when I think about salt. Apart from the fact that I love salt on everything (definitely one of my food vices), I know salt has been a vital contributor to humanity in general, and in spite of all our modern technology, we still need it. So what did Jesus mean when he said we would be salted with fire?

I have a strong feeling the answer will be unique to each one of us, but I did recently gain a greater perspective on what Jesus meant when I witnessed the effects of fire. One year ago, a savage bush fire raged through the area around our camp. Preparation, planning, and prayer saved our camp, but the consequences of the event made me contemplate this verse.

Fire destroys

There wasn’t a blade of grass left for miles. Anything dry, dead, or dying was swallowed by the flames. My husband, who was in the thick of the fire, spoke of it as a living, breathing creature, an all-consuming monster that powered up mountains, unstoppable, leaving carnage in its wake. All that remained was a blackened landscape. I was in tears to see my favourite Paperbark tree lying on the ground while red coals flickered inside. Before the fire, I had no idea that termites had been feeding at its core. In its weakened state, the tree couldn’t fight the embers that enveloped it.

My Paperbark Tree
My Paperbark, and many other trees, were still burning weeks after the fire had moved on. My son exclaimed that the land looked like a battlefield. The grey shapes on the ground—where trees had fallen and burned to ash—looked like fallen soldiers, or a crime scene cut-out. It hurt to witness my country so bare, without creatures to occupy it. Not even a bird.


Fire Clears the Land

After the shock wore off, some unforeseen advantages to the bereft land emerged. For the first time in all the years we had been in the area, we could clearly see the lie of the land. The removal of all the long grass and fallen debris revealed the slope of each gully, and the natural stacks of rock faces. We learned so much about the area—like where prospectors had been before us. Pieces of tin, old bottles, and even an antique stove top were among the treasures we discovered.

I wondered if sometimes God allows a fire to rage through us, to clean us out the way He cleaned our bushland. The overwhelming storm of emotions, the intense heat of situations that burn out of our control, the uncertainty of knowing if the hardships we are facing are going to consume and destroy us, or those around us. These times ravage us, but we know God has prepared us with His word. We devise a plan of faith, and we surrender it all to Him in prayer. He is faithful, He sees us through, every time.  He allows the fire to rage, to clean, to cleanse, and to reveal, but His word is a fire in itself that burns a circle around us. The raging inferno can only go so far.

"Is not my word like fire," declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces.” Jeremiah 23:29 NIV

After the fire is extinguished, will we see ourselves more clearly? Will the fire clean out all within us that is dead and dying? Will it expose disease, like I discovered with my favourite tree? There are sure to be slow-burning embers long after the fire has powered through. There may even be mini flare-ups when the temperature rises again. Though the carnage will impact us, it cannot destroy us.

“ … when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2 ESV

Fire Brings Renewal

My bushland remained blackened for three long weeks. The animals stayed away, as there was nothing left for them to hide behind, and not a drop of food or water. On the third week, it stormed. Lightning, thunder, and bucketing rain.  Green shoots started to peek out through the burned earth, and the green leaves of the trees heathy enough to have survived started to shine.

A week later, it looked as though the Lord had covered the land with a blanket of green. Mobs of kangaroos ran across our path. Plain turkeys took up residence at the dam, and birds of all kinds rebuilt their homes in the treetops. Animals we had never before seen in the area came to feed on the fresh grass. It was a renewal that delighted our hearts. We were witnessing a transformation.


Fire Transforms

Just as fire transformed my bushland, I know the Lord allows hardships in our lives to transform us.  The experience seasons us. This fire season we will be even better prepared than last year. My husband has installed a fire-fighting hose, and built a dam.

I believe the Lord salts us with fire for the same reason—to prepare us, strengthen us, and clean us out for His work.

Jesus said:

"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” Luke 12:49 ESV

Expect the fires to come—and with them, the salt that will season your life, and your faith.

… each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 1 Corinthians 3:13 ESV.


Rose was born in North Queensland, Australia. Her childhood experiences growing up in a small beach community would later provide inspiration for her Resolution series. 
Two of the three Resolution novels have won Australian CALEB awards. She has also released The Greenfield Legacy, a collaborative novel highlighting the pain of Australia’s past policy of forced adoption, as well as standalone novel, Ehvah After. Her most recent release is A Christmas Resolution, which is part of the novella box set, An Aussie Summer Christmas.

Her novels are inspired by the love of her coastal home and her desire to produce stories that point readers to Jesus. Rose holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, and resides in Mackay, North Queensland with her husband and son.


Visit Rose at: https://rosedee.com/


As previously published in Book Fun Magazine:

9 comments:

  1. Great blog, Rose. Thank you. How awful for you all to see the land going up in flames. I'm glad your husband has devised a few strategies to handle the next time it occurs. I had to agree with you about the fires that rage in our lives too. I've had many of them - some which seemed to rage forever - but oh the wonderful rewards those fires have reaped. I had what I call my 'Season of Grief and Pruning'- many years ago which in retrospect was a great blessing. My walk with the Lord has been even closer since and I have known His intimacy far more than before those fires raged. Thank God that He holds us fast during those seasons and as Isaiah says '"the flame shall not consume you'. May He do whatever is needed in our lives to purify us and bring us to the place He wants us to be. Many blessings on your writing life Rose. May it go from strength to strength.

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    1. Thank you, Anusha.

      It's hard to see the end when the fire is raging, but it always comes. Hoping and praying for that same strength for you, my friend. xo

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  2. I enjoyed your Resolution series, Rose. Well done! Your experience in a small community came through in the books.
    I've experienced the odd 'bush-fire' in my walk with God - no fun at the time, but afterwards, such freedom from the rubbish! And, yes, plenty of new growth.

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    1. Hi Pam.

      Thank you so much for reading my work. I do love my little coastal settings, and creating the characters you find in these places.

      Yes, growth is required for moving forward in life, and sometimes it takes a fire to kick-start a growth spurt.

      xo

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  3. Hi Rose,
    Thanks for the beautiful thoughts and images. I so relate to you, because something similar happened in the Adelaide Hills two New Year's Eves ago. Andrew and I had been driving through the area the day before the fire, and just two days later, it was unrecognizable.
    It's so true, as you say, that our lives reflect the landscape. Something that resembles a wasteland may have new life in a surprisingly short time. And thank God that in retrospect, He does use these fires to expose and reveal. I love your bush wisdom. Keep it coming :)

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    1. Hi Paula,

      I couldn't believe how quickly and vibrantly the land recovered from the fire. The green colour was spectacular. And it was another extreme weather event that brought that renewal - a monster storm. Amazing how the Lord works - He used both extreme events for the good of the land. Just like He can use extreme events in our lives for our good.

      Love that. :-)

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  4. Enjoyed your post Rose and agree with what you said. Stark contrast between the first photos and the last one with green. Thanks.

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    1. Hi Dale,

      The transformation was quite amazing. The land really is ever changing.

      xx

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  5. A powerful post, Rose. Thank you for sharing. I too have been amazed at how quickly the land recovers from devastating fires. When it seems all is lost, a decent bit of rain draws out new shoots. I really liked that idea of seeing the lay of the land and being prepared. Very true.

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