A few days ago there was a brush fire in a field a couple hundred yards from our house. The fire department responded, and the neighborhood was filled with smoke. When it was over, the field was bare – bushes, grass, trash, everything was gone. All that was left was a black, damp and smoking mess. It looked like some landscape from an alien planet, flat, black and devoid of life.
That was just the beginning of this week. That’s why I was surprised to see this a couple of days ago as I walked near the field. Grass was already growing back out of the ashes and burned rocks. It will be a long time before the field will look as it used to, but I was amazed that life had returned so quickly to a place that had seemed so utterly dead just a couple of days before. In fact, there are things that will grow there now – wildflowers, perhaps – that had no chance before because the grass, reeds and bushes had gotten so tall. Old life died in the fire, but new life is springing up – not just in spite of the fire, but also because of it.
We don’t often “hang out” in Good Friday. It’s a hard place to linger – pain, death, injustice… these are things we don’t want to be reminded of. But Good Friday is so uncomfortable because it reminds us of ourselves. There are places in our lives that are like that field. Maybe we have places where we are burning even now, feeling the pain of loss, betrayal or unfairness. Maybe we have places that are already burned out, where the pain has subsided and now there is only barrenness. All of us have places, I think, where the smallest spark could start a blaze at any moment…
Good Friday and the days that follow remind us that these are the places – precisely the places – in our lives where God can bring about new life. And the amazing thing about God’s power is that this new life can come about in our lives not just in spite of the ashes, but even through and because of the pain and darkness that we sometimes experience.
May we all dwell for a while in Good Friday today, taking time to recognize those places in our lives where we’ve experienced hurt and loss – confident that God can and will bring about new life, no matter how barren the landscape may look.