Old trees shading new undergrowth in a forest

Surviving the Fires of Life

Hubby and I took a stroll on a nearby bike trail a few weeks ago. The trail winds through this beautiful forest of tall trees and rather short undergrowth.

Old trees shading new undergrowth in a forest

I want to hazard a guess that this patch of woods went through a prescribed burn a few years ago. I’ll tell you why!

Scrub Oak

One of the shorter shrubs growing beneath the tall trees is scrub oak.

Scrub oak is one of the first to grow after a fire. Each plant has hundreds of buds on the root collar just beneath the surface of the soil. If the plant above is destroyed by fire, it quickly sends up many sprouts, which grow three to four feet per year.

With this quick recovery after fire, scrub oak is important for stabilizing and shading the soil below.

The scrub oak begins producing acorns in its third “new” year, and slows down its acorn production after about five to seven years. After that, fire is a friend to get the cycle going again!

Another interesting side note: scrub oak thrives through fire, but despises plowed land even a hundred years after the area has lain dormant.

Low Bush Blueberry

Interspersed among the scrub oak were countless low bush blueberries. Some even still had ripe blueberries the birds hadn’t discovered yet!

Low bush blueberry and scrub oak

The low bush blueberry is another marvel of God’s creation. If the plant above is destroyed by fire, the rhizomes beneath the soil have no problem resprouting. “Rhizomes have been recorded to withstand temperatures of up to 1,013° Fahrenheit (545 degrees° Celsius)” (Sara Kapral). Holy cannoli, that’s hot!

As with the scrub oak, low bush blueberry starts producing fruit within three years of a fire.

Forest Regrowth

Here in the shade of the scrub oak and blueberry bushes, a black oak has taken root and begun to climb toward the sunshine above.

The scrub oak is toward the bottom right, with more rounded leaf lobes, and the black oak is taller with pointed leaf lobes.

Black oak and scrub oak surrounded by blueberry bushes

Fires of Life

Fires of life usually come with no warning, and before we realize what’s happened, it seems all is lost. The time to prepare is now, before the fire blows through!

Preparing for Fire

How do these forest shrubs survive? They store life in their roots and rhizomes. We can do the same.

“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6-7 NLT).

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV).

Grasping tightly to Christ as we live in love helps us to keep an eternal perspective, making it easier to hold the things of this world loosely.

That’s not to say that losing those things is not painful. This life brings both beauty and pain. But the pain of loss becomes easier to bear knowing that we don’t carry it alone.

“I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you” (Isaiah 46:4 NIV).

Benefits of Fire

In spite of the pain, fires of life can sometimes be beneficial, burning away what’s keeping us from growth.

  • There may be idols of the heart that we weren’t even aware of.
  • There could be time thieves keeping us from serving and investing in others.
  • We could be simply growing stagnant, no longer producing spiritual fruit.

Storing up life in our spiritual roots beforehand makes recovery from the fires of life easier to navigate. We learn to find abundant life and peace in Christ regardless of our circumstances.

In addition, on the road to recovery and beyond, we can bring hope to others going through fires of their own.

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT).

Now it’s your turn!

What is one way you store up life in your spiritual roots by investing in your relationship with Christ?

How have you used your experiences to encourage and comfort others going through their own fires of life?

Encourage another reader by sharing in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this post, follow my blog for more encouragement throughout the month.

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