In the midst of this season of thanksgiving, my heart is grieved when watching the scenes from wildfires play out on the daily news. The devastation of an entire town. Lives forever changed. Despite it all, one thing you hear over and over is the simple, "Thank God we are alive!"
Ashes. They represent 'something that was.' Something that mattered, yet was destroyed through the heat of a burning fire. At the time of its destruction, often disillusionment and grief quickly follow. The many thoughts of 'what could have been' or 'what should have been' flood our minds. And we face the dreams that were buried among those ashes. Once the fire is gone and the ashes are all that's left, often we sift through the remains hoping to find any buried treasure from the past that may have survived.
Recently I took a trip with my son, Steffen. It was a trip that had become very familiar to us through the years. Our destination was near a place that had represented hurt and betrayal not too many years ago. The circumstances our family found ourselves in during that season was one that brought disillusionment and discouragement to each of us. The fire that tried our family was one that actually attempted to destroy our very faith. Now, years later as we traveled the familiar highway, we started reliving events at various exits along the road.
"That's where we met you on the road headed up for the interview."
"This exit has a Baskin Robbins."
"This is the exit we met up with friends."
As we relived the fun memories, we laughed at dad's constant hunt for an exit where he could get ice cream. We smiled with memories of times with the friends we had made on our journey. With each mile we drove, I felt God bringing healing in those small areas I did not even know still existed. By the time we arrived at our destination, we had realized how rich our lives had become due to that season of testing.
At the end of that highway, we reconnected with people who had walked that journey with us. Having lunch with friends that day, I listened to things that God was doing in their lives. I saw the joy on faces as we reconnected with each other, shared stories and pictures of families, and just enjoyed being together again.
Driving back home after the weekend, I reflected on our time with friends. I felt healed and so full. That still small voice spoke to me. "You found My jewels among the ashes. The fire was intense during that season, but it produced jewels that are left pure and resilient - shining brightly with My Love."
What about you? Has your journey left ashes all around you? I encourage you to go back and see what remains. Despite all the pain and what might feel like a devastating circumstance, the jewels you find might surprise you. I am thankful for my fire branded jewels. For the Master Craftsman always enjoys making beauty out of the ashes of our lives.