Sherrie Lambert, email@example.com
From June 4th to July 28th of this year, a forest fire ignited by lightening consumed over 35 thousand acres of mountain pine forest in and around Ruidoso, New Mexico. My husband, Doug, and I recently spent several days in this area. Ruidoso has been Doug’s favorite spot on earth for well over 25 years. And although it was not my first trip to the mountains, it was definitely the one I will never forget.
The fire’s devastation was not visible driving into or around the area. However, Kimberly, the cabin manager, informed us that most, if not all, of the hiking paths and the two lake areas had been closed to the public. She added that it was estimated these areas would be closed for approximately 10 to 12 years. I quickly did the math in my head and realized that there was a distinct possibility my husband would never again see the majestic beauty that had captured his spirit and engulfed his soul so many years ago… at least not in this lifetime.
Early the next morning we decided to see for ourselves if Doug’s hiking trail into the heart of the 12,000 foot mountain had indeed been closed. As we turned off the main two lane road and onto a dirt road, itself only slightly wider than a walking path, I assumed we were on his beloved hiking trail. I was wrong. This was only the 15 mile 8,000 foot high road that lead up the mountain to where Doug’s ten mile, 10,000 foot trail began.
Somewhere during the course of our five mile an hour climb I begin to feel like a visitor in a foreign land. After only a few miles the forest closed in quickly behind us. Oblivious to the low rumble of the car engine I felt mesmerized by the regal beauty that was unfolding around me. I begin to sense that it was not so much me driving into the mountain, but rather the mountain drawing me into it.
It is hard to put into words, but suffice to say that all my senses were being accosted at every side. A sense of awe and wonder rendered me speechless as I rode on in humbled silence completely engulfed in Gods grand display of splendor. Slowly as we continued our journey we begin to see the tell-tale signs of the wildfire's furious devastation. Like a wounded animal the mountain seemed to have been able to hide its deepest hurt from casual glances, and now all the fires catastrophic devastation lay out before us.
The sight of thousands of one hundred foot blackened skeletons of what were once luscious pines flowing with life giving sap silhouetted against a crystal blue afternoon sky filled me with overwhelming sadness.
It may sound all too trite to you, but the experience I am describing touched the very depths of my being. What had begun as a morning’s drive in a scenic area had quickly become a deeply spiritual experience. Scriptures about creation flooded my mind. The first chapter of Genesis tells us God said, and then God saw. Creation was formed and God was pleased with His work. It stands to reason that if God felt pleasure at the sight of what He had created, He would also experience grief at the sight of that creations destruction.
With the fall of man death entered into Gods creation and seemingly all hope for creation was lost. But God had a plan. A plan to overcome destruction, devastation and ultimately conquer death itself. A plan of salvation that only He could accomplish. A plan formed before time began that would outlast the end of time. A plan of new birth. A plan of new life. A plan of hope eternal and life everlasting. A holy plan that I have experienced in my life and that morning high in the mountains I felt I beheld with my eyes.
As the car slowly turned yet another corner, suddenly in the midst of the ravage and the ruins, there appeared what seemed to me the perfect picture of Gods plan of rebirth and salvation for creation. The sun blazing in a sapphire sky broke over the crest of the mountain top sending streams of golden rays of sunshine through a valley of skeletal pines while lighting a thick luscious blanket of emerald green grass that blanketed the ground. A morning mist heavy with the fragrance of wild flowers filtered through the shadows and as I caught my breath I thought to myself … this is what hope looks like! There is life after death my friend … Jesus said it, God gives it, and His creation continues to confirm it.