My husband and I travel for a living. We pretty much get to most every contiguous state in the USA during a years’ time, with the exception of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. For some odd reason, the Broadway shows that we transport don’t seem to end up in the extreme Northeast. Having the privilege of seeing, and experiencing, the grand landscape of the USA is definitely a perk of the job. And in our travels we see the varied conditions of the landscape – the lush greens of the Appalachian mountains, the sandy shores of the South, the wild grasses of the plains, the rolling hills of farmland, the majestic peaks of the Rocky Mountains, the massive waters of the Great Lakes, the spectacular red rock country of Utah, the vastness of the Grand Canyon, the saguaro cactus of Arizona, the nearly ever present rainbow at Twin Falls in Idaho, the pines of the Northwest, the blowing snow in Wyoming. You name it, most likely we see it.
For years now we’ve traversed in and out of California. Traveling up and down the state we’ve noticed the dramatic difference between Southern California and Northern California. With each trip along California State route 152, west of Los Banos, we notice the stark contrast of the tans and browns of brittle dried vegetation that covers hill after hill in the Pacheco Pass, interspersed with black patches where wildfires consumed said dried vegetation. And, we see how the San Luis reservoir shrinks from the effect of prolonged drought. It’s a perfect tinderbox situation, so it’s no wonder to us that this past year California experienced some of the biggest, and deadliest wildfires. The Mendocino, Carr, Ferguson, and Camp wildfires all caused massive destruction. The sight and smell of smoke was a common theme to us while driving through the areas, in fact we saw smoke from wildfires as far as 50 miles away. We diverted routes to avoid the massive out of control areas, and still managed to drive past many areas where brave firefighters worked to quench other wildfires right alongside the road.
Fire is a formidable force that’s for sure. So it’s rather interesting to learn that in some cases the very thing that firefighters use to contain and squelch a raging fire is fire itself. The firefighters clear a path from trees and vegetation allowing for a gap that serves to deprive the fire from the fuel it consumes. Then they set a controlled burn along the edge of the containment line. When the raging fire reaches the containment line, it doesn’t have enough energy to continue. Once contained, the process of putting out a fire is a little less daunting. The firefighters wisely fight fire with fire.
So, clearly, fire can be a weapon and fire can be protection. The spiritual realm also uses fire as a vivid imagery, and at times as an actual tactic. God lead the Israelites through the desert by a pillar of fire during the night. God set a flaming sword at the Garden of Eden to protect the way to the Tree of Life. The Lord descended upon Mt. Sinai in fire when He appeared to Moses. God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah by raining down fire and brimstone.
When Paul talks about putting on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) he mentions that Satan also uses fire as a tactic. “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” (Ephesians 6:16, ESV) But there’s one verse in the Bible that created a visual imagery in my mind’s eye when talking about fire. “And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the LORD, and I will be the glory in her midst.'” (Zechariah 2:5, ESV) And, it’s to this verse that my mind often returns when the subject of God’s protection comes to mind. Try as he might Satan’s flaming darts that he hurls at me are no match for the solid steady wall of the purifying and protective controlled burn of the fire that God uses to shield me from those puny darts. At no point can those darts penetrate through the wall to cause me eternal damage. Satan’s tactics are no match for the glory of God. I am his daughter, and His firery love surrounds me at all times. I only need to remember this when I am under attack.
Father, when I am in sights of Satan’s view, and he takes aim at me with his flaming darts, quickly quiet my soul and help me to remember that you too fight fire with fire. Remind me that you have surrounded me with your wall of fire all around me, and that you, yourself are the glory in my midst. Help me to remember “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:14, ESV)