When You Must Walk By Faith

Harold Sala

I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
John 12:24

When fire swept through Laguna Canyon near our office one of the properties destroyed was a botanical garden containing more than two thousand varieties of plants and flowers. Known as the Hortense Miller Garden, the place was a veritable paradise of beautiful flowers and greenery. The fire, of course, blackened the hillside as it left its ugly scars. Disaster? Yes! That is what people called it, and that it was. Yet, just five months later, the hills were alive with the beauty of wild flowers, which had not been seen in the area for thirty to one hundred years.

Here is how it happened. Years ago, before the area was converted into a garden, wild flowers covered the hillside, but these gave way to the domestic plants and shrubs that soon took over the sunlight and nourishment from the soil. The seeds of the wild flowers, however, lay dormant but not dead. Then came the fire–a disaster from a human standpoint–which burned most things to the ground, allowing the sunlight and the rain to penetrate the dormant wild seeds which then sprang up in resurrected beauty.

“I wasn’t too happy about it (the fire),” said Mrs. Miller, owner of the garden. “But I think this is exciting.” It is different today from the formal, more stately garden which existed before the fire, but the beauty is still there–rearranged by a quirk of mother nature. What appeared to be disaster turned into a different sort of beauty, one that could be arranged only by the hand of God Himself. How much like life!

At times what we first think or consider to be disaster is simply the hand of God rearranging and redirecting our lives, which, at the time, we can never see or understand. “Failure,” said Roger Bannister, one of the first men to break the four-minute mile, “is as exciting to watch as success, provided the effort is absolutely genuine and complete.”

The difference between a Christian and the man who considers life to be a disorganized and disconnected move of fate, is that the Christian believes God’s purpose and design is behind every event even though he cannot see the picture or pattern at the time. He looks for the wild flowers after the fire.

“Verily, verily,” said Jesus, “I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). The confidence that God can bring flowers after the fire stems from His assurance that God will not lie to us. Clearly the Bible promises, “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” There are times when you have to wait patiently for the flowers to follow the fire and that is when you must walk by faith, taking life one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time.

In my possession is a little piece of quilting made by Cambodian Christians in a refugee camp in Thailand. Look at one side of the design and you see only tattered threads and pieces of frayed material, but turn it over and there is a beautiful pattern of different colors.

Following the fires, life looks pretty torn and tattered, but as we wait by faith, God will turn the fabric of life and show us His design and pattern. Friend, the flowers will follow the fire as you wait upon the Lord. If your life has been destroyed by fire, be patient. The flowers are soon to come.

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