On my drive to and from work, I pass the western edge of a
fresh water marsh known as the Savannah’s. A few month’s back (ok, on second thought, about a year and a half ago), they did a controlled burn in the area to get rid of the underlying foliage that keeps the swamp from turning into a raging fire if ever something happens that.. well.. um.. you know.. starts fires. (Hrm. Yeah, not re-writing that.)
I remember driving by it during that time and seeing all the burned out plants and trees. Everything was black and charred. The underbrush was gone and it was just sand with ash mixed over it, the stems of saw palmetto bushes sticking up like skeletal fingers reaching for the sky, and trees, or at least what remained of the once green and brown scrub pines.
The fires had ravaged the entire area, leaving desolation in it’s wake.
It was quiet too. No birds, no animals, no.. well, no anything. Just the smoke rising from dying flames and the smell of burned wood.
The fire had done it’s worst.
I believe it was the second or third day after the fire was out that I
drove by and something just hit me. I looked at the nothingness and it just resonated inside of me. The emptiness that was left sparked something I had been dealing with for a while, and I felt as if this once thriving environment was an external reflection of an internal unsettling I had been experiencing.
I was once ok. I had it all together. I was ‘thriving’, at least on the outside. Then my own fire got sparked and burned away a lot of what had grown inside of me, destroying my peace, devastating my inner strength, and I felt very much like an empty patch of land with nothing but remnant left.
Then it happened.
About a week had gone by and I was stopped at the light across from the corner of the park, and I saw it. The faintest of green had come to the black ash. It was a patch, probably moss, that had grown over the last few days and was now visible.
That’s when I sensed God say to me, ‘You will be like those trees.”
It was a weird sense, something I don’t claim to have all the time, but in that moment I felt a peace calm me in the middle of my turmoil.
It was in that moment I noticed something I had totally overlooked. The trees, even in their current state of ruin, still stood.
The fire had done its worse and yet they still stood.
On the outside, they were damaged, their pine needles burned off, the bark cracked and broken.
But the tree still stood.
I watched over the course of time, watched as the black faded to brown, as the green sprouted out again, as the ground became littered with pine needles, and where once destruction had rained, life came back.
Last week, that same area got hit by another fire, and the area has been torched once again. The foliage is gone, the bushes are burnt, and the trees are bare again.
And I learned something…
In this life, you will have troubles and you will be blessed. In the end, you have very little control over either of those things. But, what you do have control over is whether or not you will be like those trees and stand.
As for me, I choose to stand.