As I drive along the highway, my eyes catch a glimpse of a stunning sight – an array of tangerine-colored wildflowers cascading along a hillside.
I’ve driven along this highway many times, but never have I caught a sight such as this.
A few years ago, a raging fire scorched the flourishing life this hillside once displayed. It left behind a grave site of black skeletal remains atop its now charcoal-covered mound.
Annual winter storms followed and turned this hillside into a mudslide, leaving behind deep scars etched into its blackened soil.
But today was different. Vivid colors of orange are on full display atop this scorched and barren land. The stark contrast provides a stunning backdrop for this vibrant new life now flourishing.
As the beautiful showcase fades off in the distance of my rear-view mirror, the Lord whispers to my heart, “You have been that barren land, but I am beginning something new.”
I love how the Lord speaks to us simply, yet profoundly. I love how he provides beautiful images and experiences as analogies for our own lives.
Just like this hillside, my soul has been scorched by fiery trials. For many years, I waded through the thick black smoke as my soul was left desolate, dry, and gasping for air. All signs of life were stripped away, leaving only a remnant of skeletal remains.
I felt forsaken and forgotten. It was hard to imagine my soul flourishing again.
How about you? Have you ever had your heart set ablaze by fiery flames, which left your soul dry and barren?
“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)
As I look back, I can see how the Lord was making way for something new.
I can see how the fiery trials cleared the way for him to cultivate my heart. I can see how the storms, which poured down and muddied up my mess, carried away the damaged soil.
I can see how the deep scars etched along my heart became the furrows for new seed to flourish.
It’s been through this process, accompanied by renegade faith, that new life has begun to spring up amidst this once barren land.
A kind of faith that rebelled against my fleshly desire to make things better in my own way. A faith that allowed me to remain still even though all I wanted to do was scream. A faith that caused me to submit and surrender to the authority of my Creator, as I wrapped my torched tendrils around his precious promises.
“When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2b (NLT)
It’s this kind of faith that allows us to begin again. It’s this kind of faith that allows us to walk through the fire and not be burned.
Charles Spurgeon says it so eloquently in this excerpt, taken from Streams in the Desert Devotional, “Do you not know that your faith never appears as great in the warm summer weather as it does during a cold winter? Your love is all too often like a firefly, showing very little light except when surrounded by darkness. And hope is like the stars—unseen in the sunshine of prosperity and only discovered during a night of adversity. Afflictions are often the dark settings God uses to mount the jewels of His children’s gifts, causing them to shine even brighter.”
At just the right time, like a beautiful bud, we will spring up from the soil flourishing with new life.
Our dark places become a beautiful backdrop for the Lord’s glory and grace to revel in all its splendor.