Jack treeSitting on my balcony overlooking the quaint ski village of Beaver Creek I saw something I had never seen before. Clusters of pine cones clinging only to the top of fifty foot evergreens. There didn’t seem to be any cones below the tip top of the trees and that seemed odd to me. Of course, I had never been eye lever with the top of a tree before, but regardless of the reason for my ignorance, I decided to do some investigating on the meaning of this oddity.

What I found out was very interesting. “The Jack pine has a unique relationship with fire. Unlike many other tree species, jack pine does not drop all of its seeds as they ripen. The majority of the seeds remain in closed cones that stay on the branches for many years. When a fire occurs, the thick cone protects the jack pine seeds from the intense heat. That heat opens the scales of the cone and releases the seed onto the ground where the fire has removed much of the existing vegetation, preparing the site for the new seedlings. Fire prepares a seedbed, reduces competition from other plants and releases the jack pine seed” (NPS, 2013).

I immediately thought of a conversation a friend and I had one day walking the hills of Snoqualmie when she asked me if I thought the only way we grew in character was by trial and fire in our lives. At the time, I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to sound negative, but as I reflected on my own journey and the process of change and transformation, it seemed she was correct in her assessment.

Fire and trial is what changes us.

If you look closely at the picture I posted with this blog, it is as if the cones are clustered at the top of the tree awaiting their destiny – Waiting for lightning to strike so that their purpose may be revealed.

Like the Jack Pine, fire is what grows something new and beautiful in our future if we are willing and open to stand through it.

No matter how reassuring this knowledge is to me, I am always surprised when trials sweep over my life. Sometimes the anxieties and stresses of life can make you feel you will break apart but nothing will come of it but ashes. God is very specific about how we should understand and face trials in our lives.

1) Don’t be surprised.

1 Thessalonians 3:3 says that we should not be unsettled by trails because we are destine for them. I wish I could take that scripture out of the Bible, but I can’t. It is the truth. We live on an earth where Satan seeks to kill and destroy (John 10:10). There is no way to avoid the fire. But don’t give up, walk through it! Trails are NOT all you are destine for!

2) God grows life and purpose out of the fire.

First Peter 1:6-7 (NIV) says, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

3) If we really knew what eternity was like, we would never fear the fire.

The words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:17-17 (NIV) remind and encourage us: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

If today, you read this and feel your life is being burning to the ground, think of the Jack Pine and allow the heat of the fire to break you open so that the Lord can plant seeds of hope and purpose into your future.