The Roots Were Still Burning


“There’s a fire in the garden!” My mother’s shout rang through our house.  Shooting out the door, I spotted bursts of flames devouring branches trimmed earlier.  I fumbled to attach a hose to the faucet and opened it to full blast. Running toward the blaze, the hose was already spurting water. 

Having a firefighter brother, who taught our whole family to aim for the base of flames, was a plus.  Within 10 minutes all three blazes were out.  Yet I noticed a perpetual smoke rising from each drenched mound.  Kicking with my foot, I discovered a hole in all three spots persistently smoking.  What was this? 

Three days earlier, my Dad was burning brush in the garden near an apple tree.  For three days the roots were holding heat beneath the earth, smoldering along the roots until they surfaced days later, and blazed again.

What does this have to do with our spiritual lives?  Some of us were raised in homes or under the influence of someone who taught us truths from the Bible.  Maybe we went to Sunday School, or Christian youth groups, or Bible camps.  The truths we learned from those experiences may still be smoldering in the roots of our lives.  It might not have been three days ago, but three years or three decades. Yet something is still active within us when we’re still enough to ponder the power of those early claims about the God of the Bible who loves us and wants a relationship with us.

When we’re aware of smoldering spiritual truths calling us from beneath the surface of our busy lives, it may be an invitation to give them some oxygen or focus to discover what God would like to say to us today.  

I’ve discovered it takes more energy to keep pushing something underground in my life away from my attention than looking at it honestly, seeking trusted advice, so I can make an informed decision about what smolders beneath the surface of my life.

This writing is an invitation for us to consider what might be spiritually smoldering just beneath the surface of our lives and to listen to God, the Bible, and Christian community for guidance on what to do or believe as our next step.


Pastor Debra Gustafson

Interim Pastor,

Urban Heights Covenant Church

Urbandale, Iowa


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