In 2001, our family visited Yellowstone National Park. We were stunned to learn that in 1988 almost 800,000 acres of the park—36%—had been ravaged by a forest fire. No tree was affected more than the lodgepole pine, the primary tree at Yellowstone. This tree reproduces in one of two ways, either by typical male/female reproduction, or by having its hard outer coat of resin melt. As the resin dissolves, the seeds are released and dispersed throughout the rich soil.
The resin that surrounds the lodgepole pine seeds only melts at extremely high temperatures, like those associated with fire. In the inferno of 1988, it is estimated that as many as one million seeds per acre were released from the cones, paving the way for prolific new growth. Without the fire, it would never have happened.
I believe God at times “turns up the heat” in our lives to deepen our holiness. Like those lodgepole pines, the hard resin of our sinful nature can trap our seed and hinder its release, resulting in stunted character development and muted impact. We may need some heat to melt the wax so the seed can bear the fruit and shape us more into the character of Christ. The fire we experience isn’t purposed to consume us, but to make us purer by removing all the barriers hindering us from that prolific growth.
So the next time “heat” comes in your life, don’t be afraid. Remember those lodgepole pines. Trust that the Lord will use the fire of your sufferings to burn up the bad and make way for the good. Be assured that the day will come when your ashes will be turned into beauty.