The Rodeo-Chediski fire is the worst fire ever recorded, to ravage the State of Arizona. The fire started on June 18th 2002 and was not controlled until July 7th of that same year. It burned over 467,000 acres in Eastern and Central Arizona.
Initially, there were two fires. One was started on the Fort Apache Indian reservation by a man that was hoping the fire would let the BIA hire him for work. The other was started in Central AZ by a stranded motorist who had tried for two days to get cell phone reception and finally started a fire hoping that a TV news crew helicopter would see her and rescue her.
The fire was devastating to many of the people up here in my mountain home. Many communities had to be evacuated. Many people lost their homes and all their earthly possessions. The severe winds blew the fires closer together and fueled the flames until the fires combined a couple of days later. The fire cost over 50 million dollars to control and burned over 400 homes before it was finally contained.
Such a tremendous amount of damage because of two people who made very bad choices. Their choices did not only affect them. It affected all who live here, visit here, move here, and leave here. And it will continue to affect them for years to come.
Today when I look at my home, I see this:
Blackened trees, up-right and falling down.
and a few green trees struggling to survive, and new trees rising from the ashes.
The lesson of my beautiful forest is that life goes on. All the troubles and trials that burn our hearts, don't have the power to destroy our souls. We always have the power to rise from the ashes of adversity and sorrow. We always have the opportunity to overcome. It may take time, sometimes a long time, but we can make it through even this.
In the New Testament, we read of the Saviors miracles. We read the stories of the blind who were given the gift of sight, the lame man that was given the power to take up his bed and walk. We read of the lepers who were healed and cleansed of their disease. We even hear of the dead being raised. Nothing was beyond His power to heal.
One of my favorite stories is of the woman who had suffered a disease of blood for many years. She was considered unclean by those around her. She saw doctors and tried all manner of things to heal herself. In desperation, she followed Jesus and reached out and touched the hem of His garment. He asked who it was that touched Him and who was healed. Her faith made her whole again.
Have you ever wished, as I have done, that you had the faith that woman had? Have you ever felt the need to reach out and touch His garment? Have you ever wished that He could heal the pains in your heart? That He could cleanse your very soul?
Sometime, in each of our lives, we will know the crushing pain of sorrow and heartache that will threaten all sense of logic, or hope or certainty. A pain from which, no matter what happens, nothing will ever be the same again. Hurts that come to us as unique losses, unwelcome surprises, unfulfilled hopes, and overwhelming grief.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles warned:
“The world around you is an increasingly hostile and sinful place. Occasionally that splashes onto us, and perhaps, in the case of a few of you, it may be nearly drowning you. …
“… You can change. You can be helped. You can be made whole—whatever the problem. All he asks is that you walk away from the darkness and come into the light, his light, with meekness and lowliness of heart. … Christ has ‘borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows,’ Isaiah declared, ‘and with his stripes we are healed’—if we want to be (Isa. 53:4-5).
We can partake of the healing offered through the Atonement of our Savior, who promised, “I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee” (3 Nephi 18:32).
The Savior came not only to atone for our sins, but also to heal our hearts. He can reach through our sorrows and find the new, living growth. He is there for each one of us, no matter what hurt we have suffered and born. No matter what mistakes we have made. He has paid the price for us. He has felt the pains of sorrow and despair. He has felt our anguish and our aching. He has felt our loss and our grief. He stands ready to support us as we struggle. Like the new green trees in my forest, He will help us rise from the ashes of our greatest fires.
He only asks that we reach out into the smoke and darkness, take His hand, and walk with Him.
Patty Ann is a busy mother, grandmother, and wife. She lives her life in the woods she loves up on the top of a beautiful mountain. She loves music, photography and writing. Most of all she loves her Heavenly Father and enjoys writing about his influence in her life. You can find her on her blog at Pitterle Postings