Fire and Regrowth

In 2003 the Cedar Fire ripped throughout San Diego County. When I saw the smoke earlier that Sunday morning, I never would have imagined we would be evacuated or that the flames could possibly spread through the county by a firestorm spread by the hot, dry Santa Ana winds. The repeat of disaster with the 2007 Witch Creek fire damaged my church and the surrounding neighborhoods. After both of the fires, I remember driving around seeing the damage to homes and open space. Blackened trees and shrubs seemed like they were dead. No green was visible. They echoed the despair shown in the faces of those I knew who lost their homes.

Driving through Scripps Ranch, I was surprised to see the eucalyptus grove begin to regrow. The scarred branches began to cloth themselves again in green. The leaves at first hugged the trees, looking more like blankets than branches of leaves. In time, the trees grew again. There are some that still show the fire’s path, but they once again show life. They are being restored.

We sometimes have fire storms rip through our lives, burning everything we hold dear. It leaves us dead inside, feeling like nothing will ever be beautiful again. It may not be a literal fire, but health issues, deaths of loved ones, failure, unemployment, and relationship problems leave their own damage.

King David understood despair. He repeatedly cried out to the Lord in the Psalms. Sometimes he questioned God, “Why do you stand afar off, O LORD? Why do you hide in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1) Like David, we may wonder where God is in the midst of our troubles.

David knew he could turn to God and that he would not be turned away in his sorrow or with his questions. “But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief, to repay it by Your hand. The helpless commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless.” (Psalm 10:14 NKJV) The Lord God does not change. He was faithful to King David, and He hears us and answers us as well.

We will also be restored. New growth will occur in our lives. At first the healing and growth may be wrapped around us like a blanket of leaves where it seems a little strange and not what we expect. But in time, we will become beautiful as the Lord restores our souls.

“The LORD is my Shepherd,I lack nothing. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:1-3 NIV)