East Troublesome…

by DanWolgemuth on October 7, 2022

On October 23rd, 2020, a massive and explosive forest fire crossed the border into Rocky Mountain National Park. The fire had been started just about a week before near Kremling, Colorado. But parched conditions, a ferocious wind, and beetle-infested pines all provided the perfect storm.

The fire, the second largest in Colorado history, was called the East Troublesome Fire. Historic and devastating. Before snow did what an army of firefighters couldn’t, over 193,000 acres of Colorado mountainside were scorched.

Now, two years later, Mary and I embarked on a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. The Fern Lake hike to be exact. Roughly 9 miles round trip. Like any mountain hike, this is good for my body and mind. But this hike was different. It provided a megaphone to my soul. For roughly 80% of the hike we walked in the burn scar of the 2020 fire. A graveyard of charred pines and aspens. Blackened trunks and empty branches provided a vivid and somber reminder. Death was everywhere around us.

But in the two years since the fierce firey onslaught, life has returned. Not to the dark and devastated branches, but below. Out of the unconsumed soil that protected the prospect of life. Small in stature, but prolific.

This growth explodes with color and vibrancy, particularly against the backdrop of destruction and death. Life in the midst of wooden skeletons. Color. Hope.

The contrast spoke volumes. Without a lecture or a website or an Instagram post… just the vivid picture of death, then life. Of devastation, then promise.

We don’t make dead things alive by pretending they aren’t dead. True in a burn scar in Colorado, and true in my own life.

The Apostle Paul puts it bluntly. Ephesians 2:1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.”

Charred. Devastated. Lifeless.…

And to his bluntness, Paul brings hope… But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

For just over four hours I walked in a timberland graveyard that is now a nursery. Authentic, rough, difficult, and yes, ever so beautiful.

On a nine-mile walk in Rocky Mountain National Park, I had a seminary class. A theology lesson. A living metaphor.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17, CSB)

Not dead trees made to look alive, but brand new trees. Created fresh. Life in the midst of a burn scar.

This is my story. In fact, it is the story of every follower of Jesus. All of us. Yes, out of the ashes… life.


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