Our sympathies go out to the inhabitants of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan affected by the recent wildfires. We continue to pray that the lives and homes of the local people are protected from the devastation raging in the area.
The fires in the Upper Peninsula, particularly the Duck Lake Fire in Luce County, are terrifying because of their proximity to populated areas. In an ecosystem, however, this destruction can be transmuted into beauty. Wildfires clear out clogged undergrowth and dead fuel, giving new plants a chance to grow. Fires replenish nutrients in the soil, rejuvenating the forest.
The Great Lakes Church of God has a special connection to the burned region around the Two Hearted River near Rainbow Lodge. The church at large seems to be of two hearts: a compassionate heart and a hard heart. The lovely Two Hearted River is the symbol we use on many of our publications, and our church members have enjoyed its beautiful scenery on many canoeing and camping trips. This region, now damaged by flames, is still a fitting symbol. Just as the forest will take this opportunity to grow and become transformed, so we as Christians strive to grow and become transformed by the fiery trials in our lives. As James 1:2-4 states, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” God’s Holy Spirit is often represented in the Bible as a purifying fire, purging us of our hard-heartedness to help us develop righteous character throughout our lives.
The recent sermon, “Let No Trial Be Wasted,” explores this concept more fully.