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You’re standing in your watchtower, eyes wide in horror as the forest around you blazes.
You rush down the wooden stairs, as fast as your feet can carry you. You have to warn your community that lives just down the hill. You have to tell them about how big the fire is now.
You’ve been watching it for a while, as it’s been growing and growing, slowly moving its way closer and closer to you and your home. Now it’s almost here.
Together with the people in the community, you’ve been keeping an eye on the fire and directing people how to stay safe with it looming closer each day. You’ve all been preparing to deal with this disaster when it finally arrives.
You have meetings together to discuss what you should do about the fire, and though many people have opinions and suggestions, none of you can decide what to do. In fact, most of your meetings end with everyone arguing about the best way to deal with the fire.
You’re tired of watching this blaze from afar, and tired of trying to help your community come to a decision together. This inferno is all you can think about lately, and it overshadows everything else you do. It’s pulling your face and your spirit downwards, but you know you still have to do something. There has to be something…
As you come to the bottom of your watchtower, you stop. You turn and look at the fire raging ever closer. It’s almost here and you wonder what you’re going to tell your neighbours. Nobody has agreed on anything yet.
And that’s when you see it, stapled to the wall of the tower you’re still standing beside.
It’s the flyer for the Forest Ranger, weathered by the elements but still there, and with His phone number on it. It says to call anytime there’s a need and that, “Only YOU can choose to call.”
That’s right! You wonder how you could have forgotten about that! You realize that you should have called the Ranger a long time ago! That’s what you need to do!
You run back up the stairs inside your watchtower and dial His number. He picks up on the first ring and in a rush, you explain what’s been happening and that you need His help right away. You start listing off all the things you’ll need to battle the fire but that’s when He says something. He simply interjects, “I’ll be right there.”
You put the phone back down, wondering what He’s possibly going to do when He gets here, and when that will be.
You arrive at the bottom of the stairs again, wondering how long you’ll have to wait for His arrival when you see Him already leaning against His truck, watching the fire in the distance. He must have been really close by to have already made it here. Then…if He was that close, He must have seen the fire too! Why didn’t He say anything?! What has He been doing all this time?! He could have stopped the fire a long time ago!
You run up to Him, your questions and doubts burning inside of you, and start peppering Him with questions about what He’s been doing and why and what should you do and where has He been and-
“Why are you wearing your sunglasses?” He gently asks.
“Wh-what? I’m not wearing sunglasses.”
He looks at you, gesturing lightly to your face. He’s got a small smile on His face, and you wonder how on Earth He can be smiling at a time like this.
Sighing, you reach up to show Him there’s nothing there, and that’s when you feel them on your face. Your breath intakes sharply, and you wonder how long they’ve been there for. If you’ve been wearing those all this time…
“Remember your glasses? The ones I gave you after you walked into that tree because your vision was so bad?” His smile seems to pick up a bit more as He mentions the memory. But you also know He was the first one to help you up and tend to your subsequent wounds.
“Well, why don’t you put those on again? They’re much better than those sunglasses.”
“Right,” you say, feeling a bit sheepish now. You remember putting them on some time ago because the sun was so bright and hard to bear at times. It was so much easier to look at things through shaded lenses. It was so much more comfortable. At least, for a while.
When you take off those sunglasses, everything is so bright. You shield your eyes and take out your glasses from your pocket where they’ve always been. You hesitate slightly, anticipating that it’ll be even harder to bear the brightness when you put them on, but you do it anyway because the Ranger said to. Every time He’s said to do something in the past, it’s always turned out good in the end, though almost never how you think it’ll go.
As soon as you put them on, you notice a difference. Things are super bright, but the glasses are helping your eyes adjust. The colours around you are different and when you look to the Ranger, He’s brighter than any of it, yet you still find yourself holding His gaze. Or maybe He’s holding yours, because you don’t know how you can stand to gaze at something so bright.
“So, how are they?” He asks.
“They’re…good,” you say, nodding.
Then you remember the reason you called Him here.
“Oh yeah! The- the forest; it’s on fire! It’s going to destroy everything!” You’re waving your arms and gesturing wildly, trying to convey the drastic and impending doom that you’ve been witnessing. You need Him to see and understand what’s happening.
You turn to where the fire is burning closer and closer for emphasis. “It’s…”
Your sentence is unfinished as you see the flames with these glasses. They’re not the same angry flames you’ve been watching. Rather, these flames are ethereal in quality. They almost seem to be see-through.
You watch as they move closer and closer to your settlement. It isn’t leaving ash and rubble and utter destruction in its wake as you thought. Instead, it’s simply changing, and refining things.
The Ranger hands you a set of binoculars, still with that smile on His face, but it doesn’t seem quite as crazy now.
As you gaze through the binoculars, you can see that some things have been burned away, but not everything; mostly just dead trees and shrubbery, hidden snares that poachers have set going up in flames, and hunting blinds built by those same poachers being eaten up by the fire. Everything that doesn’t belong.
You look at the Ranger again, at a loss for words and thoughts. All that’s been consuming your thoughts lately is for naught. All that your community has been arguing about has been, well, without use.
“You knew about this fire all along…” It’s more a statement than a question at this point.
“Yes. It didn’t surprise me. In fact, it’s part of a plan. This fire…” He gestures toward it. “…it has a purpose.”
You think about that for a moment. As crazy as it sounds, you understand a little more. And it is crazy. You think of how you’re going to explain this to everyone in the settlement, and how they’re going to think you’re nuts.
“Just remind them about their glasses too. That’s all you need to do. Leave the rest to me.”
“Well, will the fire burn our settlement down? Will it burn everything we’ve built?” You want to try and be able to give some assurances to your neighbours.
“The fire will burn away anything that does not belong, anything used for malice and not a part of my plan – which is for your future and goodness.” As He speaks those words of an uncertain future, His eyes tell you otherwise.
He holds out His hand for you to take. “Do you trust me?” He asks.
You think of all the disasters He’s brought you through, and all the stories of things long gone by that He’s brought people through, and of his kindness. And you know the answer.
“Yes,” you say, taking His hand and following Him.
This irregular blaze ahead seems frightening and you’re afraid of what might happen, but you know the Ranger is by your side. He uses everything to His purposes and righteousness, and with the wisdom He provides, you know that He’ll walk you through it.