I just knew that I was not going to get a post written this week, but today, I got an unexpected day off. Mason wasn’t feeling well, so I stayed home with him. His favorite snuggle spot on days like these is Mommy and Daddy’s bed, so I started folding laundry while he rested and watched Dinosaur Train (a PBS Kids show). I was half listening to Dinosaur Train – and half thanking God for a moment to catch up on my laundry (not that I wanted Mason to be sick) – when the show captured my full attention …
There was a forest fire that was causing the dinosaurs to temporarily leave their homes – aboard the Dinosaur Train. The dinosaur children were nervous about the fire. Would they lose their home? If they lost their home, what about their section of the forest; would it look the same? Would they or someone they love be hurt? The train conductor told them that a fire – although scary – can actually be beneficial to a forest. It helps keep the forest healthy by clearing away old or dead trees that are blocking out sunlight seeds need to sprout and grow. He even said that there are seeds that can/do only break open in the intense heat of a fire. (I kind of knew the part about the old trees, but seeds opening in intense heat … apparently even parents have things to learn from Dinosaur Train.)
Whether you know me personally or just through thoughts shared on this blog, you can probably tell that I’m a thinker. So as I continued to fold laundry and Dinosaur Train changed to some other kid show, my mind would not let go of the show’s message – more specifically, its biblical connections. I just LOVE how God hides things in plain sight – things for us to discover and explore in the context of His Word! If you have a journal, you may want to grab it. I have some questions for you to think about. If you don’t journal, just read on and give God a chance to bring up these questions in your mind over the coming days.
Jesus tells us in Mark 9:49 that “everyone will be salted with fire” (Amplified Bible). The New Living Translation reads: “tested with fire” (emphasis mine). Thinking about the characters on today’s Dinosaur Train, with which do you most closely identify? Are you one of the children who has not yet been through the fire? Did you see it start, or do you see it coming? Are you scared about what the fire will or won’t leave behind? Remember God’s message in Hebrews 13:5 (I know that someone needs this very Word today. Read it aloud. I admit that the Amplified version is wordy, but in this verse, it‘s totally worth it!):
“for God Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down (relax My hold on you)! Assuredly not!”
Was anyone else practically shouting by the third “I will not”?! Whatever fire you’re being tested with, if you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you, then God Himself is with you in the midst of your trial. You will not be consumed.
Are you more like the train conductor with knowledge to educate people about the new life for which a cleansing fire can make a way? Observe those God has put in your sphere of influence. Reach out to those who need to know that there is life after the fire. I already referenced Mark 9:49. Earlier in that passage, Jesus “took a little child and put him in the center of their group; and taking him in His arms, He said to them, Whoever in my Name and for my sake accepts and receives and welcomes one such child also accepts and receives and welcomes Me …” (vv. 36-37).
Regardless of whether you identify with the children on-board or with the train’s conductor, we all have old, dead trees in our lives. Look around you, what things – attitudes, habits, routines, people, etc. – are or have been blocking the Light of the Son (Journal Question #2)? Identify them, claim God’s cleansing power over them, and watch as “ the darkness is clearing away and the true Light … is already shining” (1 John 2:8).
Already shining. What does that mean for those of us who are looking around at a scorched landscape? It’s Good News, my friends: “The Lord has sent me [Isaiah] … to grant consolation and joy to those who mourn in Zion–to give them an ornament of beauty instead of ashes, … that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, …] the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1, 3 emphasis mine). Amen.