My shoulders kept bending ever backward as I stood and looked at the giant trees standing all around me. Trees so tall you couldn't see their tops. The breeze rustled gently through their mighty branches and whispered a strange peace. It was my first time of visiting the majestic Muir Woods in California. I'd never laid eyes on a natural site such as this ever before. A creek ran trickling down through the middle of the paths on either side of its banks. Birds sang out a cheerful chorus. Two baby foxes played happily along the side of the path, oblivious to the dozens of people passing by their den. The whole scene spoke of tranquility and soul-refreshing wonder...of delight in a Creator whose ways take the human breath away.
I happened on a talk that one of the park rangers was giving to the eager tourists. He educated them on the uniqueness of the redwood trees and how the Muir Woods were discovered. However, one thing he said got my mind to thinking...and I honestly didn't hear much of the talk after this. Redwood trees are unique in that fire doesn't damage them - they're essentially un-burnable. Indestructible. Unlike most kinds of trees which burn up and die when a forest fire strikes them, redwoods actually need to be burned from time to time in order to grow and become strong. They thrive on the heat and the flames. The char marks on some of the trees, the ranger said, were from nearly a hundred years ago, but the tree withstood the burn and bears the scars of its survival.
The spiritual analogy was too strong of one for me to pass up: the fires of life come upon all of us. We each find ourselves facing tests and circumstances that threaten to burn us right through, to destroy the last bit of life in us and leave us for dead. But, unlike the trees which have no choice as to their kind and how they will handle the fire, we do have a choice as to which type we will be. When such adversities and tests happen to us, will we allow ourselves to be like those that burn straight through and cannot withstand the heat? Or will be like the redwood which thrives on the flames, which stands strong in the times of its testing? Which, when its droughts come, will put out more roots to find its needed moisture to replenish itself?
God allows things to occur in our lives so that we will discover what kind of tree we are. So that we will find out if our roots are deep and secure or weak and shallow. So that we will come to understand how to form thick bark that is un-burnable, indestructible. So that we may one day come to grow into a scarred thing of beauty which reflects strength.
Whatever tests you may be going through right now in your life, choose to welcome the fiery trying of your faith. Through such trials, God enables us to grow and, therefore, become monuments to His grace.