Last month, my closet pyromaniac husband gleefully eliminated a long standing task on our farm to-do list: burn the brush piles. These weren’t your average “let’s have a bonfire” brush piles; the previous owner stock piled wood and brush from job sites over a period of years, building the larger one to over eight feet tall and forty feet in diameter. I was determined to somehow recycle the material as desperately needed organic matter in the garden and orchard, but we couldn’t find any viable options. Chippers are expensive to buy or rent, and the time required was out of the question. Most of the larger pieces were rotten and no use for our wood stove. The only bio char set up I knew would have been as equally time intensive (since then I learned how to burn a brush pile in certain ways to glean bio-char and we will be doing this with the remaining piles ) Mr. Pyro patiently waited for me to give in to the burn option.
Not only were these giant piles unsightly, they locked up usable land and harbored snakes and rats. It was past time to eliminate them. Scott struck the match on a windless, winter day with drizzle in the forecast. To his delight, the largest pile took seven days to burn! He carefully tended (played with) the fire from the moment he popped out of bed until he fell back in. When he took breaks from pyromania and joined civilization, everyone nearby suddenly shared a craving for hotdogs and s’mores.
The end result was a small pile of charcoal and ash which we gifted to the garden as a soil enhancement (the soil here is very acidic and ash helps balance the pH.) The charcoal will harbor beneficial bacteria and increase the health of the soil (we will protect it with mulch and inoculate it this spring with IMOs) and the left over organic material will enhance the clay dominate soil. We finally have a clear view of our property and we’re planning to experiment on the burned area next summer with a tomato patch (tomatoes love calcium and ash contains a lot of it.)
As my husband roamed around smelling like a campfire, I found myself thinking about rubbish piles in my own life that needed to be burned. Most of them weren’t such obvious eye sores, but they still had hidden places for allegorical rats and snakes to find refuge. I find myself procrastinating the necessary incineration, afraid of the process; I might get burned, the fire could get out of control, the smoke may upset the neighbors, it requires more time, energy or resources then I feel I have available to do it safely… To be honest, I’m just scared of fire. Especially when it concerns the refining process of my heart.
Kay Arthur has a beautiful teaching that explains the biblical references of God as a silversmith. A silversmith stays very close, never leaving the silver, as the process is precise and requires just the right amount of heat at just the right time, else the silver be ruined. Each round of heat gets hotter as more dross is bubbled up to the surface to be removed. The process is finished when there is a perfect reflection of the silversmith in the pot of silver. This allegory reminds me that I can trust His goodness and presence in the midst of fire- whether it be a wildfire of trials that sweep over and appear to completely consume, or a “controlled” brush fire of obedience and cleansing.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.” Isaiah 43:2
What brush piles in your life are blocking your view, stealing energy and housing pests? Do you need to burn up some unforgiveness, shame or fear? Do you desire to manage your time or money with more wisdom? Maybe you have a bad habit or stronghold that you are finally tired of enough to put to death, no matter the heat required. Do you have clutter that controls you? Relationships that need mending or ending? Maybe you need some help clearing brush from the past so you can look ahead.
It’s a new year. Burn a brush pile and celebrate! If you need help- go get it! (We are new to farming and only own basic, inexpensive tools. Thankfully we have generous neighbors with tractors, mowers and bobcats who help us with huge projects that would otherwise overwhelm us. Along with powerful tools, they have wisdom and experience.) Your Father will provide for you, just ask Him. He is highly invested in you. You are precious to Him!
John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Luke 3:16
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 1But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. I Peter 4:12-13
For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance. Psalm 66: 10-12
so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ I Peter 1:7
The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests hearts. Proverbs 17:3
This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold.
They will call on my name and I will answer them, I will say, ‘They are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’” Zechariah 13:9