It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. – Matthew 20:26-28

Long before humans began building mini-marts, 7-11s and parking lots, much of the Sierra forest was open and park-like. Huge tracts of sequoias towered over the land. Occasionally a fire would go through, clearing out the underbrush. Not only would the fire clean up the area, certain plants rely on forest fires to disseminate and germinate.

In fact, some species are so fire-dependent that they can only germinate in its presence. These plants don’t become set in any given location. A fire blazes, they get spread, and germinate but as they grow, they create conditions that are favorable for the more popular and larger trees. They basically work themselves out of an environment. Giant sequoias tend to seed in areas where chaparral is abundant, even if it is not an area that would normally be conducive to a sequoias’ growth. Chaparral will grow in the burnt out area, creating a shady, humid area while keeping erosion at bay and then after about thirty years, other trees and bushes start growing again until the chaparral is pushed aside to wait for another fire.

I want to be a chaparral Christian. I want to go into those areas that everyone else fears and start gently restoring things to working order. I want God to call me to work in the burnt out lives of men and women who think there is no hope and demonstrate that it is precisely in these kinds of areas that Christianity thrives. I want to work so hard at discipling these broken people that they outgrow me and there comes a time when I must step aside so that they can take over.

I hope that my spiritual seed will always be dependent on the fire of the Holy Spirit to take root. I hope that His burning, cleansing presence will periodically sweep through my environment and destroy all the kudzu, weeds and the underbrush that life seems to keep piling up in my life (Hebrews 12:1).

Fire enlightens. It casts its flickering radiance, not in the cold and harsh brightness of modern tubes and bulbs, but in the warm effulgence that causes the eyes to gaze and the mind to meditate. Fire reveals flaws. Watch the cracks in wood reveal themselves within minutes of being in a flame’s presence and think about the role of confession in prayer. Our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).

Let your life be so wrapped up in His that you cannot imagine existence otherwise. So lose yourself in His service that you delight in everyone’s advancement, even if it means your demise. Be a chaparral Christian.