Sadly it seems to be in every summer’s headlines – fires raging in the West. Millions of acres destroyed by fires that can range for weeks on end; fires that bring a lot of bad news. But, you know, fires like these aren’t all bad news. Now, there’s no doubt they cause tremendous damage, but over the long haul, they also can produce a lot of new life. Somehow, nature renews itself with fire – a lot of old and dead stuff is burned away, new vegetation begins to grow, and new life actually begins to spring up.
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Renewing Fire.”
God seems to have established this principle in the world – the fire that destroys can also renew. If you’re going through the fire right now, that might be something very important for you to remember. If you don’t, all you’ll see is the damage and you’ll lose any sense of hope.
Maybe the fire has burned through your family recently, or your church, your business or your relationships; maybe it’s burned your health. And there’s no doubt that the fire has taken away a lot. There’s no denying the damage and the pain from the fire, but that’s never the whole story.
In 1 Peter 1:6-7, our word for today from the Word of God, we get a little glimpse of our Heavenly Father’s perspective on the fires of our lives. He says, “For a little while, you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire, may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
God describes our trials here as “fire.” And the fire is only applied here to something really valuable – gold. Also, the fire isn’t forever; it’s “for a little while” it says. And notice what the purpose of the fire is: not to destroy the gold but to “refine” the gold; to get out the impurities…to increase its value.
That’s a God’s-eye view of the fire that you’re in right now. He thinks you’re worth purifying, you’re worth improving, you’re worth getting ready for greater things, but first the fire. The fire that has taken away so much, can also bring new life if you’ll stay close to God in the fire and not wander away from Him.
What kind of new life does God bring out the flames? For one thing, He helps us focus the rest of our life on the things that really matter. Everything in our lives goes in one of two columns – the stuff that really matters and the stuff that really doesn’t. And a lot of times we get those confused, don’t we? The times of struggle, the times of loss help us get everything back in the right columns. So many people emerge from the fire more committed to the eternal than they ever were before.
The fire often forces you to sort out where your identity is really anchored – not in your job, not in your title, not in your performance, not your appearance, but in your “unloseable” relationship with Jesus Christ and your infinite value to Him.
The flames often drive you to a new closeness with the people you love. Sometimes they cleanse your schedule from years of accumulation, and they can draw you deeper into your Lord than you ever thought you could go.
Yes, the fire destroys. But, thank God, that is not the end of the story. The fire also renews!