We went to the beach. And I'm sunburned. Not the kind that's slightly pink and kinda cute on your face- the kind that is red and horrid, and feels as bad as it looks. My skin basically thinks all my clothes are hot magma being poured down over my person at all times. My bra straps like knives, digging into my shoulders. I have a doctors appointment this afternoon, so during Adalynn's morning nap, I had to get dressed and such while writhing in pain. As I flat ironed my hair, the residual heat was melting my face off.
As I sat there thinking, like I always do, God started talking, like He always does when I'm quiet enough to listen.
Like a good teacher, since He is, the rhetorical questions flowed:
"Bri do you feel burned?"
My flesh, there in the mirror, red hot, screamed out "Yes!!!"
But my heart cringed because I knew His probing was more than skin-deep.
"Bri do you feel burned?"
As I write this now, my eyes well up with tears. Not because my skin hurts from irresponsible behavior at the beach yesterday. Or even because my soul feels "burned" by God. But because I know that He burns us for our best interest, and there are far too many of us who can't understand that.
There are plenty of people- maybe even you- who have been burned before in life.
Often it's someone we loved dearly, who now holds the flame-thrower, and we know well enough to stay far away now.
Maybe a boss burned you out with relentless shifts, less than par paychecks, and cynical words to cut you out of promotions or even affirmation during a job well-done.
Maybe a friend burned you with the lies of deceit and manipulation that caused scars you'll never be able to un-see.
Maybe a spouse left you burned, as they walked out of your life- taking all the things you had ever accumulated and achieved for years together, just because the grass appeared to be greener elsewhere.
Or maybe God Himself, burned you- in church or through unanswered prayers you prayed. Maybe someone is now lost or gone forever, even though you spent hours crying out to a God you thought would never leave you, and now you've nothing to show for it.
I've prayed those same prayers. The kind that seem unanswered, and forgotten, and like you, I too, have been left burned. More than that, my heart has been charred black, and soot and debris swirl above as all that's left smolders to nothingness.
I've been burned. Bad. By God.
But I'm not giving up. I'm not throwing in the towel. I'm not placing ever-growing distance between Him and I, even though the heat is up, and the flames are hot.
That's what the enemy wants after all.
To place distance...sin in short...between me and my Maker. Between you and the Savior.
What if we looked at being burnt in a new light? What if we embraced the heat, rather than crawling away from it?
Because the hottest fires are the ones that burn away everything that's dead and terrible and not of value in me- and leave only what He has carefully crafted left. Only what is eternal remains. Gold can only be refined through intense fire and heat.
Friend, our tendency is to back away when things get hot. Like my skin now reminds me, the sun is bright- and even in some partial shade, I still feel the scathing heat from its rays. In life we often do the same. When circumstances become hot and unbearable, and the feelings too strong and overwhelming, we seclude ourselves far away from the source of the heat and trouble.
But I would encourage you to press in. Get close. Let the fire that feels like it's overtaking you, do just what it wants to do. Because amidst the blazing furnace is the Great I Am who will never leave.
Isaiah 43 tells us that He will be with us when we go through fire, and we will not be burned.
How can He be with us if we never experience such fire?
We must dare to travel to such a place of discomfort, that He can be with us, and rescue us from the burn.
If you've been burned, he can, like sweet cooling salve, wash over you and treat your wounds and make them new.
Or if you're unsure, and you now say you'll dare to go to that place of fire, try Him, because He will not fail you.
I'm not nearly done yet, but I can assure you that I've come too far to go back. I've experienced too much fire, too much heat, too much pressure to want out now. I have only the choice but to continue to allow Him His perfect way in me.
I've been burnt- my flesh and my strength and my attempts at righteousness are now burnt to nothing but dust.
But I've been burned- on an alter of sacrifice, where dross is purged and gold remains. Where eternal is lasting and the unseen is forged. And I'm so very thankful. Thankful that amidst the fire, He has been there. Thankful that against my will, He continues to make me more like Him. Thankful that He burns away everything that's vain and unworthy to make me worthy of bearing His name.
Thank You, Jesus, for the fire.
There is beauty in the burning. So burn, baby, burn.