By Sandy Kirby Quandt
My parents lived on acreage in the south Georgia pines and frequently had controlled, or prescribed, burns. Sitting in the middle of all that pine sap and straw fire was a real threat. Especially during times of drought. The day we moved my mother to town, years after my father died, ashes from a fire just the other side of the swamp fell like snowflakes to the ground. Surgical masks became a necessity as we breathed the heavy, smoke-filled air.
During a prescribed burn the previous fall, firebreaks to control runaway flames were dug along the edges of the pine forest surrounding the house.
Because I didn’t grow up in this area of the world, it took me a while to fully understand the purpose of deliberately setting the woods on fire.
Smokey the Bear always said to prevent fires, not start them.
So I educated myself on the matter.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of southeast Georgia:
- Prescribed or controlled burns remove dead vegetation (keeping the underbrush from becoming a massive fire bomb, I would presume) and returns nutrients to the soil, helping to prepare a seedbed for plant germination.
- Fire helps to reduce disease and insect infestations and naturally prunes vegetation.
- Fires burn away the woody shrubs that grow around trees that, if allowed to grow, could provide snakes and other predators easy access to the woodpecker nests.
- Southeastern pine trees, such as pond and sand pine, require heat from a fire for seed release.
So, I’m thinking…any spiritual application here? I believe so.
Point #1…we need God’s refining fire to burn away the deadwood we carry around inside to keep us from exploding and spewing flames on those around us. Removing the dead, useless things will give room for new spiritual growth.
Point #2…allowing God to prune us and shape us to his design will keep those pesky insects of pride, idolatry, laziness, gossip…fill in your own personal insect…from boring holes into us and causing our spirit to become diseased.
Point #3…sometimes we allow evil to surround us where predators can hide, waiting for a weak moment when we let our guard down, and then they attack without warning.
Point #4…okay, I’m not real fond of this one…well, I’m not real fond of snakes, or insects, either…sometimes heat has to be applied before the seeds of our spiritual growth can be released.
There you have it.
Lessons learned from controlled burns, and the Refiner’s Fire, designed to burn away everything that displeases God so we can be clean vessels to be used by him.
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Wash me inside and out from my wrong-doing and make me clean from my sin. Psalm 51:2 (NLV)
I wish you well.
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