Refined by Fire
I had to build a fire today. I repaired some fire bricks with mortar in an outdoor fire area. The mortar package stated that the mortar had to be cured with the gradual heating of a fire. I had to start with kindling and newspaper, and the fire started quickly, the edges of the newspaper curling up and then becoming fiery red. The kindling ignited next, and soon enough, I had a small fire. This small fire wouldn’t be enough, however, to cure the mortar and make it strong. A gradually built fire brought to a high temperature was the only way. Supplying the fire some strong puffs of my breath caused the small flames to bounce higher and catch the larger sticks on fire. Soon enough, I was adding more wood and finally, a log that made the fire so hot I could not stand too close. To turn the glowing pieces, I had to find a long branch so I could stand to the side and push and prod the fire in order to have it evenly burn.
As I fueled and tended the fire, it seemed to have many parallels to our own spiritual journeys.
1 Peter 1:7 states, “knowing that the trial of our faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found to praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” Our lives are not easy. The trials of life are like the fire I started with the wind blowing the flames higher and hotter. But with the flames of the trials, our lives become refined through the fire. The unnecessary, the distracting, the selfish falls away when we can see what is left after the fire burns.
Zechariah 13:9 reminds us that the fire will “refine them as one refines silver, and test them as a gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” When we look to God to help us through our trials, he comes alongside us so that we are not alone. Through that process, he calls us his own; he names us as his children, and we belong to him. In that belonging, we become more of who we are meant to me – like the silver or gold of the scripture – more beautiful, stronger, and more able to withstand and survive the trials of life.
That afternoon in my backyard, the fire grew hot and strong but then subsided as the fuel was consumed. The mortar dried to a stone-like surface, and the mortar edges charred and curled away from the bricks revealing a tight seal between the grid of bricks. Through the fire, the goal was achieved and the journey to wholeness was complete.
Jessica Carlson, Coach