Posted by: kathryngraves | April 19, 2017

Burned Dirt

Driving through the Flint Hills of Kansas the other day, I topped a hill and caught my breath. As far as I could see on both sides of the road, the ground was charred. This part of the country has few trees, so what I saw was acres of burned grass. To be honest, I think I looked at burned dirt. No grass remained.

What happened here? I wondered. I know the ranchers burn in the spring, so maybe that was it. I also know drivers sometimes toss cigarette butts from their cars that spark fires. And there have been numerous electrical thunderstorms in the area recently. I never found out the cause, but it didn’t matter. The result was the same–burned dirt.

It looked like nothing could ever grow there again. Only smoking, hopeless nothing was left. But I knew better. Ranchers burn the fields to rid them of unwanted undergrowth inhibiting prairie grasses and to add nutrients to the ground. Because I’ve lived on the prairie for years, I’ve seen green sprout out of burned ground. My experience tells me what will happen, even if my eyes tell me it can’t. Even if I’d never seen it, the experts would tell me grass will grow there again.


Photo: Pixabay

I couldn’t help thinking about Isaiah 61:3, “To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (NKJV)

Has there been a fire in your life? Do things look bleak? Does it seem as if nothing good can come of recent circumstances?

There are several reasons we experience scorched earth times.

  1. God, as the expert rancher, knows we need to be rid of weeds and start over.
  2. We cause the fire by our own actions, whether we realized what could happen or not.
  3. Someone else starts a fire and it jumps the fence onto us.
  4. We live in a lighting-filled world.

No matter how bad it seems, there is life in the ground. God will do something new. If you are a child of the King, His Spirit lives inside you and never leaves you. Even if you lose everything and everyone else, you still have Him, and He has a plan for you–a good plan.

My cancer treatment made me feel like burned dirt. I told the doctor I felt like I’d been burned alive and stabbed to death at the same time. My hair was gone and my body had been tortured. I lost hope for a few weeks. But then I spotted tiny new hairs on my head, new medicine eased the pain, and fresh scars began to heal. Today I feel beautiful. My experience tells me God did not abandon me. He wanted to get rid of the weeds and do a new thing.

I won’t say God caused my cancer, but He saw it coming and didn’t stop it. Like Jesus, when he heard Lazarus was dying, did not rush to Bethany to heal him. Instead, He delayed until Lazarus died. Jesus wanted to do something bigger and raise him from the dead.

I have a friend who lost custody of his children to the court because of drug abuse. He tells people today that even though it seemed like his life was over, God used his loss to begin something new. My friend is a new man after treatment and a fresh relationship with Jesus Christ. His children came home, and he now helps other addicts.

Another friend suffered abuse and loss of contact with family because of the choices her son made. But after years of relentless effort and prayers, some of her relationships are restored. She says the most important thing is her relationship with the Lord and His care for her.

I could go on, but you get the picture. There is life in your burned dirt. You can let God trade beauty for those ashes. He wants to make you a tree, not just a clump of grass–a beautiful, flowering tree with deep roots.


Photo: Pixabay

Why does God allow us to go through personal prairie fires? So when new trees grow out of burned dirt, we are stronger, more beautiful, and He gets the glory.



  1. Thank you, Kathy, for allowing the Lord to use you and your story. What a blessing to me and others!

  2. This writing is so inspiring, Kathy! Thank you for opening yourself up to others through the pain of your cancer experience in order to help us see the bigger picture God has awaiting us. Our own burnt ground will become beautiful through His amazing grace and mercy.

  3. Like

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Thank you, Kathy I also went through cancer treatment and God gave me wonderful words to hold me up. God knew (I didn’t) I would also loose my husband after my second chemo treatment so I finished chemo and radiation in His strength. 2 Corinthians 12:9
    MarleneBrown—we met at Patty Ingram’s home

  5. Thank you Kathy, I love to read your post and it has so much meaning.

  6. Neat story, our bad situations often have a good result.

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