Monday we mused on Psalm 66:11-13.
"You brought us into the net;
You laid affliction on our backs.
You have caused men to ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to rich fulfillment." NKJV
Let's jump into context for a moment before we get to the meat of the message.
It's hard hearing that God brought His people into the net (or prison) and laid afflictions (hardships) on them. Men rode over their heads? Yikes!
But waaaay back in Deuteronomy God clues His people in by giving them commands. In fact, He warns them a billion times it seems not to leave Him to worship other gods (false gods, idols i.e. anything you put before Him) and then He gave them clear conditions of what would happen if they did.
One of those was allowing other nations to come in and take them captive--to net them so to speak. Many died. But He promised, because He's faithful, to keep a remnant of people and that He would deliver them. The whole point was to turn them back to Him. Away from things that they were putting first and from ungodly practices.
The Psalmist, here, is actually praising God for His wonderful works. Yes, fire and water came. But yes! God delivered His people through and on the other side came abundance. Rich fulfillment.
Isaiah 43:1-2 says,"O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you."
Guess what? You're going through the fire. And water. Probably many times. But you won't be burned. You won't drown.
Let's take a look at an interesting tree.
The Rocky Mountain Lodgepole. The lodgepole "produces serontinous cones which do not open at maturity because they're sealed shut by a resin between the cone and the scale." *taken from HERE*
These trees require heat with temperatures between 113-140 degrees F to melt that resin and release the seeds.
In nature, only forest fires can produce those kind of temperatures.
The Jackpine, in Michigan, is similar to the Lodgepole. And there's a bird called the Kirtland Warbler, which is endangered, that loves to nest in them. So the Department of Natural Resources actually light fires in these Jackpine ecosystems so they can release seeds from their cones and thus produce more trees, thus as more Warblers breed, they have a safe place to live.
In 2002, "the annual census counted over 1000 singing males…" They can be heard singing beautiful melodies up to half a mile.
To prepare the ground work, fire is necessary. I think we're a lot like Lodgepole pines and Jackpines. We need the fire cranked up to open us up, to produce seed in order to grow--to bear fruit.
"But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13:23
When we allow the fire to come, when God allows heated circumstances to develop us and open us up for His glory, it will draw others to us and ultimately to Christ. Like the Warblers. Flocking to us.
Like the mustard seed in Matthew 13:31, which was a small seed but, when it grew, it became a tree for birds of the air to nest in its branches. The body of Christ is like that tree. A place for those to come and nest. Make their home. Connect. Find comfort--the same comfort we were comforted with when we went through the fire, when it opened us up and produced good fruit in our lives.
I think with each Warbler, a new song is sung.
"He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many people will see this and worship him. Then they will trust the Lord." Psalm 40:3
We just have to get through the fire first. And sometimes, it burns hot. Because that's what it takes for us to bloom and grow and produce for the Kingdom. For glory of our King. And to bring in new birds, with new songs.
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I'm curious, do you have a favorite bird? God's creatures are amazing!