One time I had a dream that I was joyfully rolling on the floor, laughing next to a blazing fire that was burning in a fireplace. I started to roll right toward the fireplace and then felt the intense heat from the fire and realized that I was going to roll INTO the fire. After realizing this, I instantly stopped myself from rolling and then immediately woke up.
As I thought about this dream, it occurred to me that I must have been afraid of being burned by the fire. Stopping myself from rolling into a roaring blaze certainly seemed like the logical thing to do! Avoid the flames! It makes perfect sense to avoid the pain and avoid being burned. After all, fire is dangerous!
Afterward, I thought about how our loving God uses fiery trials in our lives to refine us. Avoiding or resisting “the fire” is not the best way to handle life’s experiences when God is trying to work out some important things in our lives. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:29 …our God is a consuming fire. A consuming fire is something that consumes or destroys. God is holy and He burns up anything that is unholy in us. I would like to share a few points about God’s refining fire that I hope will give some encouragement so that we can be in His fire without fearing it.
RELIANCE - God’s refining fire helps us to be more reliant and dependent upon God. We all like to be in control, don’t we? We like to avoid pain. Anyone who enjoys pain has some strange issues. It is not fun to experience times of suffering, sorrow, or pain, but there are some important things that God does through the fiery trials that we face. His refining process works humility in us as we respond to Him. We become dependent and needy and recognize who we are and who He is. We declare our utter need for God and admit that we find our strength in Him. In 2nd Corinthians 12, Paul talks about the thorn in his flesh that kept him from getting prideful. God told him in verse 9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” In the fire, God becomes our strength.
WE ARE NOT ALONE - When we go through the fire, remember that we are not alone and that God is with us. In Matthew 28:20b Jesus said, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” He said that He will never leave us or forsake us. Nothing can separate us from His love. Romans 8:39 says, “neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace, the Lord was in there with them. They came out of a blazing hot furnace without any injury or even smelling like smoke! Isaiah 43:2b says, “When you walk through the fire you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Even though the fire is really hot, all is well because Jesus is with us in the fire and we are not alone. We don’t need to be afraid of the fire because He is with us.
REFLECTING JESUS - God’s refining fire is part of a purification process that He uses to make us more like Him. He burns off impurities in us that don’t please Him. These can be things like pride, selfishness, fear, idols, or other things that need to go. He wants us to be loving radiant vessels that carry His glory. We should allow Him to do His work in us and not fight Him in the process, so we can “Let go and let God.” When gold is refined, it is subjected to extreme heat and impurities rise to the surface. This “dross” gets sifted off and the gold becomes purer to the point where it looks clean and brilliant. God wants our hearts to be pure like His.
BE A BRIGHT LIGHT - I believe that there is a refining and purifying happening in the hearts of believers all around the world right now during this Covid-19 pandemic. God is using this time of suffering to purify our hearts to make our faith more genuine to impact a world that is in utter chaos. This time of suffering is causing us to evaluate what is important and what is not and the things that have temporal vs. eternal value. 1st Peter 1:6-7 says:
In all this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
This verse gives so much hope to us, because the trials that we go through, are going to cause us to have a more authentic faith that is going to bring glory to His name. That means that we will be much brighter lights in a world that is desperate to hear the gospel…the good news of Jesus! I would like to close by sharing a poem about God’s refining fire called MAKE ME GOLD. May we be encouraged to embrace the fire without fear and dare I say, “Roll in it!” May we all come out as PURE GOLD!
MAKE ME GOLD
Holy Ghost Fire fall on me,
Burn away the dross,
In the ashes and the flames,
In Your fire gold remains
Find the gold in me.
I bring my soul unto Your altar,
I humbly bring my heart there too,
I lay them down as flames surround them,
I present them now to You.
Fire of God fall on me,
Fire of God set me free,
I have counted the cost,
I count nothing as a loss,
Burn away the dross.
In my heart, in my soul,
Bring the fire,
Make me whole,
Make me gold.
Poem by Kathleen Bailey (used with permission)
(c) 2020 ELICIA ROY