Friday, 14 June 2019

Looking to God for Help in the Fiery Middle



Easy is not my idol.

I’ve never wanted it easy. In fact, I value hard work. Sometimes, even a bit too much. (You can read about my love affair with effort, here.)

No, easy is not what I’m after.

But sometimes, I wish my fire was different.

I wish I could choose my struggles.

Struggles that stretch me and pull me and make me stronger in a predictable pattern.

Normal every day, garden variety struggles.

You see because even though easy is not my idol, predictability is.

I’d like a guarantee for all the hard work I put in.

You know, the kind that says my kids will turn out just fine because I’ve been a good parent.

Or that I listened to God, followed a path less trod, and although it is hard, the rewards at the end of the journey are exactly like the ones I conjure up in my mind.

But I don’t get to choose.

And the more I walk through the fires—the ones that God has chosen for me—the more I realize it’s a good thing.

Because God is after much more than I am.

He desires to transform me, not just make me stronger.

To rob me of my pride, which He knows stands in our way.

To draw me into His life so that I may reflect His glory.

So all of us who have had the veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT)
I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. John 17:21 (NLT)
Yep, my goals for my struggles are just not ‘divine’ enough.

But I don’t like my fires. I don’t like the ones God has chosen. Yet I love how near God draws to me as I’m walking through them. How daily He reassures me of His presence, His power, and His protection.

Still, some days, I cry out, ‘Please turn the heat down, God!’ If you’re passing through a fire right now, you know the refining is not easy to bear. Yet I’m beginning to appreciate the chiseling that’s taking place, and I’m growing ever more grateful for His patience with me when I continually ‘kick against the goads’. (Acts 26:14b)

It is useless for you to fight against my will. Acts 26:14b(NLT)

What about you? Do you ever wish you could peep to the end of your story and know that it all turns out all right? Maybe then, you tell yourself, you can be bold and share your struggle. Maybe then it could encourage another because after all, it turned out fine.

But God doesn’t give us that. Instead, He gives us just a misty, refreshing spritz for each fiery step we’re on in the middle of our story.

And do you know what? With each spray you recognize that right here, caught in the blazing furnace, you’re not alone. God is with you.

Deep down, you know this is true. Because you feel it in the unexplainable peace that rushes in when fear tries to sear your faith, or in the strength you find to step into the fire day after day, or the light that shines in the darkest moments guiding your next step. You know God is with you.


And maybe someone else needs to know that, too.

Needs to know that we may not be sure of how our earthly story ends, but we can be sure of one thing--our God is with us always. He never leaves our side. He loves us, strengthens us, and is actively preparing a place for us.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. Isaiah 43:2 (NLT)

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (NLT)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 38-39 (ESV)

So no, I don’t like my struggles, and I’m not guaranteed the earthly ending I imagine, but I can walk through the fires because I’m not alone and my God, my fellow Fire-walker, wants much more for me than I want for myself. And. I. Can. Trust. Him. 

I hope this encourages you as you walk through your very own fire today.

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What about you?

Do you sometimes wish you could choose a different struggle? Or perhaps just see to the end of this one? Maybe you feel like you’re the only one being scorched by a fire today. Take comfort, my friend, you’re not alone. Our God is greater than the blaze, and He’s right there with you; may you find strength in Him today.

And one more thing, if you’ve been comforted by God’s refreshing misty presence in the middle of your fire, why not reach out to another, yes, right there in the fiery middle, why not invite them to share in the relief God offers? Who knows who you might encourage today.

Grace and peace to you,

Carlie



@Embracingtheunexpected






(Post image by Kiên Trịnh from Pixabay)

19 comments:

  1. This past year has brought trial after trial after trial into my life. But as David expressed in Psalm 23 verse 4: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

    God has shown Himself faithful every step of the way. As a Perfect Father He held me close through it all. GREAT IS HIS FAITHFULNESS!

    Did I understand why it was all happening? No. Was it enjoyable? No. Was it easy? No. Would I have preferred to not go through it? Yes.

    But, like Jesus, I said, 'if possible take this cup from me - but not my will, Father, let Your Will be done.' Resting in His mighty arms here I am - a year later - still praising Him for His faithfulness. The word I kept hearing in prayer was - persevere - so I did.

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    1. What a beautiful testimony of God’s faithfulness through the fires of life! Thank you so much for sharing with us! May God continue to hold you close.

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  2. Amen, Carlie! God is present with us through all our struggles, and maybe especially in the ones He chooses for us. We will walk through the fire and not be consumed!
    Blessings!

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    1. Amen, Martha! Even when we don’t feel Him, He is always there. And that truth brings great comfort. Blessings to you, my friend!

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  3. Currently listening to Father Knows best by Kirk Franklin. Some of the lyrics are:

    See, it's important to understand
    That just because God allows things that may not be good to us
    Does not mean that's it's not good for us, yeah
    I can see that you have a plan
    That I won't always understand
    But God, your ways are better than mine
    So whatever you see
    Keep working on me
    Promise me you'll hold me close
    Promise me you'll hold me close
    (Jesus, promise me)
    Promise me you'll hold me close
    Don't ever let me go

    This song is getting me through. God's plan for our lives is perfect even when we don't understand.

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    1. Wow! May not be good to us, but good for us! Powerful faith-filled lyrics! Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Carlie - I loved this post. I am so glad you shared it on Grace & Truth Link-Up. You and I sound a lot alike.
    I love hard work but like predictability and I sure haven't had any the last 14 years. But one thing for sure God has always been with me. Thank you for your words. I am sharing and coming back to re-read.

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    1. Thank you, Maree! That to me is the sweetest promise of all—God is always with me! So glad you can relate and grateful you were blessed.

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    2. Hi Carlie - I wanted to let you know I have chosen your post to feature tomorrow on the Grace & Truth Link-Up. I know it will bless many. Maree

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    3. Thank you, Maree! So grateful! Praying it'll indeed be a blessing.

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    4. I have no doubt it will be a blessing.

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  5. Carlie, this is beautiful. One thing we learned over on The Red Sea Rules: Week 1 post was that God has us just where He wants us— for a reason and for a purpose. And in week 2, we learned the reason and purpose is His glory. Thank for posting. Pinned. Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

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    1. Thank you, Patsy! I’ve been so encouraged already by InstaEncouragements!

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  6. This is a beautiful post, Carlie. I needed this encouragement today. Pinned it!

    Blessings,
    Your friend at the Grace and Truth Linkup.

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    1. Thank you, Tammy! I love God's timing. Blessings, my friend.

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  7. Wow, love this post. Definitely will share with some of my friends who I think will appreciate it. Also, as I was reading, this song came to me which totally fits the theme of the post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmNc0L7Ac5c

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    1. Thank you, Tamika! I pray it'll be a blessing to your friends, as well. And thanks so much for sharing that song; it fits beautifully! So grateful there's Another in the fire with me.

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  8. Carlie, you're so right. How I wish I could choose my hard path instead of God picking it for me. Even as I write that I see how silly it is. I see only but to the tip of my nose but God sees to eternity. He really is trustworthy!
    Plus, I'm glad I've had friends (and sisters) like you to walk with me through some of the darkest paths.
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your journey in yet another beautiful piece.

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    1. Thanks, Marv! God does know best, yet sometimes it takes us a while to realize that. Thankful for His patience and the help He provides along the way.

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