What remains...

I was invited to lead worship for a women’s retreat in the mountains of Ruidoso, New Mexico. Having never been to that part of New Mexico, I was excited to explore!  My flight landed in Albuquerque, so I had a 3 hour road trip ahead of me.  I picked  up my rental car (thanks Alamo for the free upgrade) and off I went.

There’s not much on the radio when you’re on the open road surrounded by nothing but dry brush, piñon trees and the occasional dairy farm.  I was perpetually hitting the seek button as I scanned through mostly talk radio, country and Spanish music.  As I got closer to my destination, the forest started to change.  I began to notice vast expanses of dead, burned trees.  I had to pull over to take a picture.  As I stepped out of my car I noticed the complete and utter silence.  I thought about how peaceful it would be to live in such a calm place.  The contrast of the black of the gnarly trees against the perfectly blue New Mexico skies was striking.  How could something so dead be so beautiful?

I hopped back in my car and kept driving.  About a mile down the road I saw something out of the ordinary.  I noticed steps that looked like they had previously led to a house, and a fireplace still standing.  All around it were black, dead trees.  And in front of it all stood a “for sale” sign as if to say “We give up.”  I ignored the Private Property sign and thought of how my Dad would do the same thing. (The apple doesn’t fall far). I drove slowly up the short gravel road and stood in front of the property.  I thought about the sadness that comes from losing your home, all of your belongings, something you have worked so hard for.  My heart was burdened for whoever this home had belonged to.  I don’t blame them, I would probably do the same, pack up and move out.

As I continued my journey I rounded a corner where there were more and more burned trees.  But then, there was something that took me by surprise.  In the middle of all the black trees were fresh wood walls and a brand new roof.  A brand new home was being build amidst the ruins of the old house that had been destroyed.  ”Wow!”  I said out loud.  I thought about how much courage it takes to rebuild in the danger zone.  I pondered the fear that needed to be overcome to say “We’re not giving up.  This is our home, and this is where we belong!”

Instantly I thought about marriages.  Marriages that have been through the fire, and have rebuilt amidst the ruins.  Two people who have chosen to admit “This is a huge mess, but together we can build this house again.”  So many give up far too soon.  They quit without fighting to rebuild, and they miss out on seeing the unexplainable power of God.  Sometimes all we can see is the burned trees.  All we can see is destruction, and we can’t even fathom something beautiful emerging from the carnage left behind.  Maybe you had a hand in starting, or stoking the “fire” that ruined your marriage.  Maybe, even now, you’re standing there and watching it burn, instead of doing what you can to put it out.  And now, it’s too big for you to control anymore.  My friend, it’s time to put it out.  You cannot rebuild until you have put that fire out. Think of that “fire” as the sin in your life.  You have brought it into your home and now it is a firewall that is between you, your spouse and God.  God wants to heal, He wants to rebuild, but He can’t until you put that fire out.  How?  Repent!  Give it up!  It’s time to stop burning down your own house, and time to get to work rebuilding it.

Throughout the rebuilding process God will give you glimpses of the beauty that will be.  As I drove through all those trees, I started to notice countless wildflowers growing at the foot of the dead trees.  Yellow flowers, purple flowers, scattered the forest floor bringing newness to this dead place.  No one planted them but God.  I began to notice the colors of the wildflowers more than I noticed the devastation.  See, that’s what God does.  He heals us, He restores us.  He completes the work in us, so that we start to notice the beauty rather than the death.  Will you let Him bring new beauty into your life, your marriage, your relationships?  God has that healing, it’s time to put the fire out, and lay the foundation for what is to come.  Don’t give up,  it’s always too soon to quit.