The spring of the forest fire.

Oh, how quickly a forest is destroyed with only a single spark. Scripture says that only ashes remain when a rumor is ignited. I have been burned alive, left in smolders by those who thrive on spreading the blaze.

Sabrina Ward Harrison once mused that she was afraid that others would find out who she was before she did, and that she would be the last to know. This used to be me, too. I have spent my twenty-two years wrestling. But I finally feel like I know who I am. Once, I felt as though I lacked something to fight for, but today, I know what I am protecting. Ever more importantly, I know whose I am, and who is protecting me.

One of my greatest ambitions is to lead a quiet life, unplagued by the hustle, bustle, and emergency that is screamed to me from every angle. To be in the world and not of it. I have craved strength and dignity, the ability to laugh at the days to come. This is truly the desire of my heart.

I have been hurt countless times by the sword words and judgment of others. I’ve repeated their darkness over and over to myself, but I’m done with that now. I must also confess that I, too, am prone to these judgmental tendencies, and yet through grace alone, I have been proven wrong about many things and people.

I never wanted to punish anyone… nearly as much as I do not want to be punished.

But sometimes, inevitably, the flint messes in our lives rub each other the wrong way. When a fire erupts, the soil can respond one of two ways: sometimes, the soil can benefit, but under other circumstances, the flames could cause detrimental erosion.

And what of grace? Can it really reach down to where we are when we’re at the end of our rope?

Could a garden come up from this ground at all? 

Depending on my heart’s response, this is not the end of the story. I choose the good. I choose right now to be better. The nutrients in the soil increase when there is a fire. The flames may destroy, but they leave quiet room for restoration. What death is experienced in the heat is miraculously contributing to the creation of something new.

Out of chaos, life is being found. 

Grace prevails every time. I am left with no room for doubt.

Yes, I know who I am. My identity is no longer found in what man might say about me. I have been redefined. Love really is amazing, and I am fighting to the death to protect it. In his book “The Cost of Discipleship,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated that “by judging others, we blind ourselves to our evil and to the grace that others are entitled to as we are.”

May I speak grace as the gentle answer, so as to turn away wrath. What man has meant for harm, God has redeemed in order to accomplish His will.