Why I Sent My Main Character Through a Wildfire

Thanks for joining me again on this mini-series on the blog where we dive into the why behind my stories’ natural disasters. Today let’s discuss why I chose a wildfire for Off the Itinerary’s finale.

It may not surprise you that after sending my five teenage characters through an avalanche and then a flash flood, I chose to subject them to a fire. First snow and ice, then raging waters and a raging treasure hunter, and now onto a forest fire. Why fire? Obviously a wildfire is a high excitement natural disaster, so the energy of a blazing forest fits right in with my series. In addition to being the most obvious next disaster to face, I like the character refinement that goes with fire. 

In several passages, the Bible talks about precious metals, symbolic of people, being refined in fire. Refiners’ fires get rid of the impurities, the low quality junk. While the precious metal can endure the high heat, the dross floats up and is whisked away. If the dross is not removed, the metal cannot be used. It would be weak, of low value, and a very long way from a piece of jewelry or usable vessel. God knows that like impure metals, we need a lot of refining to reflect His image. The refiners’ fire, in the form of challenges and trials in life, bring to light our human nature and sinful habits. We need to skim off the spiritual dross.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

Maybe you can look back on seasons of your life when you were tested and came out stronger. Maybe you’re currently in the fire and are being purged of dross – you know, those habits that get in the way of our spiritual growth. It’s never easy going through the fire, but we can trust that God isn’t burning us; He’s shaping us into His image. The heat and pressure prepare us to be valuable members of His family. 

In my third book Ablaze, the main character Marlee, who is now 17, learns what it means to be a leader. Like the wildfire she’ll experience, learning to lead is scary and uncomfortable for Marlee. After being mistreated by an old friend, Marlee doesn’t feel able to lead anything. More than anything, she tries to avoid leading and getting burned, but these are just what she needs to reach her character arc. She has to go through the fire and learn to lead. Just like the unrefined metal, if Marlee didn’t lead a group through a wildfire, she wouldn’t reach her full potential. 

If you know someone who could use some encouragement as they face character refinement, remind them that God is the great crafter who has a beautiful goal in mind and that they will be closer to that finished product when they’re on the other side of the fire. God knows just how much refining they can handle, and He will not leave them alone in the fire.

Reading a story of someone (even a fictional character) who endures a trial can be very encouraging. We can take those lessons and apply them in real life, being reminded to stay grounded in God so that we can come out of the fire refined, with our old dross whisked away. 

Readers, comment below about how fire (in its many forms) has refined you.

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