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Seeds of the Kingdom

Beauty From Fire!

by Christel Baxter

To comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion –to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning…They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated.
Isaiah 61:3-4, NIV

Here in South-Africa, a little while ago, we witnessed news of a raging fire in Cape Town around the Table Mountain area. This fire destroyed or damaged more than 5000 hectares of ground and 13 properties. About 500 people had to be evacuated from their homes and extreme heat and high wind speeds made it very difficult to contain and extinguish the fire. It was sad to see the devastation of this fire, as the beautiful mountain and surrounding areas were left black and charred.

While watching a documentary on the fire and the effects on the ecology, I was very surprised to hear that the fire had huge benefits to some of the plant life around the mountain! An ecologist who is a specialist in the plant life growing around the mountain said, “As devastating as the ongoing fires around the Peninsula have been to property and tracts of nature reserve, regular fires every fifteen years are critical to the rebirth of fynbos-dominated ecosystems. (‘Fynbos’ is the natural shrub land vegetation occurring in a small belt of the Western Cape of South Africa). Without fire, these ecosystems slowly decay, negatively affecting the plants, birds and animals whose life cycles and food chains are inextricably bound to the fynbos. Ironically, it’s the lack of fire that’s the ultimate death sentence for fynbos ecosystems.”

And as if to confirm his words, I came across the most beautiful photos of new plant growth and flowers that were already growing on the mountain less than two weeks after the fire devastation.

I saw such a parallel between the fire that’s needed for plant life to grow and the refining fire of God in our lives. We may go through seasons where it feels like everything that was beautiful and dear to us has been destroyed or damaged in some way, leaving us feeling devastated. But take courage! God can take what the enemy meant for evil and turn it around for good – for His glory and His purposes (Genesis 50:20). He can bring new life and new growth to ashen things or situations in our lives.
I’m reminded of Malachi 3:3: ‘He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the priests, the sons of Levi, and refine them like gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord offerings in righteousness.’

It may be that your life as a child of God has become a little overgrown by unfruitful things and dead works. Perhaps there are habits or faulty beliefs that have crept in, that are slowing down your growth. Or perhaps wrong choices have caused damage and devastation in your life. God wants to heal and restore you. He loves us so much. His plan for you is to bear much fruit to bring glory to the Father (John 15:8). Don’t let your focus rest on the ashes that are left, or the painful pruning that comes at times. Allow God to bring beauty and fruitfulness from your fiery trials. Allow Him to restore the places long devastated and bring the oil of joy.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You’re never caught off guard by the raging ‘fires’ in our lives. Thank You that You always know how to restore and heal and bring new life to places long devastated. I’m so grateful for Your love and faithfulness to me. Amen.

Christel Baxter joined the Associate prayer ministry team at Shere House, S.Africa in 2008 after attending the 20 day school. She is married to Gary, who serves with her on the associate team. Their children, Liezl and Wesley, are both married and they adore their son-in-law and daughter-in-law! Christel is passionate about seeing broken lives restored and especially loves ministering God`s love and healing to women of all ages.

 

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