God knows what he’s doing. It sounds cliché, but he really does have a plan! One way we see this truth play out is in nature. There are two natural occurrences that are perfect examples in creation that point to God’s sovereignty: lodgepole pine trees found in the western U.S. and grapevines from the Burgundy region of France.
Forest Fires and the Sovereignty of God
While on a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park, I was struck by the charred expanse left behind after a devastating forest fire. As I thought about how the fire had taken out miles of forest and left blackened stumps and ground in its wake, I felt a sense of loss and disappointment. Why couldn’t a fire of this nature have been prevented? Was its cause a careless visitor? A spark produced by the multitude of vehicles parading through the park?
As it turns out, neither of those were the cause. The fire was a naturally occurring phenomenon, possibly started by a single lightning strike. Even more incredible is that rangers did not want to stop it or even prevent the fire. Over time, they’ve learned that fires are actually necessary. And there’s one variety of pine trees that actually benefits from fire: the lodgepole pine tree.
The pine cone from this tree is sealed in a resin that allows it to remain on the trees for years. In order to open up and drop its seeds, extreme heat, like that of a fire, is required. When major fires happen, the pine cones open, and the seeds, are deposited into the rich, newly ash-fertilized soil that’s no longer sustaining any competing plant life. It’s an incredible picture of the sovereignty of God! Devastating fire? No problem for the Lord—he already has a plan.
Drought and the Sovereignty of God
While watching the documentary A Year in Burgundy, I learned vineyard owners aren’t the ones who water grapevines. Even in a drought, water from a sprinkler or any other mechanical form is unnecessary and even prohibited. Why wouldn’t a vineyard owner water the crop?
Without man-supplied water, the roots of the vines are forced to go deep. In fact, they must grow four or five meters deep in order to be stable enough to withstand each drought they’ll face over their long lifetime. Some vines live up to a hundred years! If vines are coddled by artificial watering, they won’t dig their roots deep enough and won’t survive the challenges of dry weather. There’s another reason for the “intentional suffering”: the flavor of grapes from vines with deep roots is preferred! Severe drought? No worries for the Lord—he has a plan for everything.
What can we learn from lodgepole pine trees and the grapevines of Burgundy? First, God’s plans are on display in creation. Second, sometimes we too must live through a fire—total devastation—in order for new seeds of life—renewed faith—to be planted in rich soil. Similarly, the challenges of a drought may be the catalyst for learning to dig our roots deep into God’s Word. Above all else, these examples remind us that God has a plan. He knows what he is doing—in every detail of nature and in every life of those who love him.