On the west coast of the United States grows an amazing example of “beauty from ashes”—the Knobcone pine. This tree does not attract a second glance; however, observing it for any length of time, one would see what makes this tree so special.
The pinecones of most species maintain the natural cycle of life by dropping their seeds in the fall of each year which then germinate with the coming rains, thus perpetuating the species, but the Knobcone doesn’t do this. Its cones cling to its branches year after year, closed firmly against the environment, glued shut with resin, a phenomenon called serotiny. An extremely determined squirrel may chew through a pinecone or two, but for the most part these cones resist predators and remain unharmed.
Things may continue this way for years, 50 or more. The possibility of the Knobcone pine’s extinction looks real. The situation appearing hopeless until one day, a forest fire sweeps through the forest, reducing all in its path to smoking ashes. The Knobcone pine is now a charred stump with no possibility of reviving. To our logical minds this looks like the end for this tree; but God created something miraculous when He formed it.
The fire melts the resin, allowing the heavily armored and insulated cones to open, releasing its seeds. These areas of burn are soon covered in dense carpets of seedlings, thriving because there is reduced competition from other plants. Over a period of time, lasting up to four years after a burn, they will still be scattering seeds, replanting what was lost, and more.
The seeds of a Knobcone pine grow best in soil with a higher pH level. A fire temporarily creates this condition. All the cones produced since the tree was a sapling, or since the last fire, are caused to open by the heat and discharge their seeds soon after a forest fire. Fire is essential for the completion of the pinecone’s life cycle. Thus fire, the destroyer of these trees, is directly responsible for the new growth that follows. In the aftermath of destruction, seedlings of life are born, springing up out of the ashes.
The Heartbeat of the Remnant, Spring 2017, Angela Zimmerman; https://treesfoundation.org/2020/11/knobcone-pine/
The Refiner’s Fire
There burns a fire with sacred heat
White hot with holy flame
And all who dare pass through its blaze
Will not emerge the same
Some as bronze, and some as silver
Some as gold, then with great skill
All are hammered by their sufferings
On the anvil of His will
I’m learning now to trust His touch
To crave the fire’s embrace
For though my past with sin was etched
His mercies did erase
Each time His purging cleanses deeper
I’m not sure that I’ll survive
Yet the strength in growing weaker
Keeps my hungry soul alive
The Refiner’s fire
Has now become my sole desire
Purged and cleansed and purified
That the Lord be glorified
He is consuming my soul
Refining me, making me whole
No matter what I may lose
I choose the Refiner’s fire
Written by: Jon Mohr and John Randall Dennis