Up in Flames

 

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In 2016, a fire broke out at the Institute of Criminology in Brussels, Belgium. It took dozens of firefighters to squelch the blaze. No casualties were reported, but witnesses were alarmed at the sound of the ensuing explosion.

In reviewing the scene, officials quickly determined that this inferno was no accident. Destroyed in the fire was a laboratory used to analyze DNA samples collected at crime scenes—the same DNA historically used to link and convict people to crimes. The perpetrators set the fire to destroy valuable evidence.

Fire destroys. It has the unique ability to annihilate and dismember anything in its path.

As we surrender our whole hearts to God in search of the deep-seated passion and fire our soul seeks, we will find along the way that there a few things that need to be destroyed.

An Uncertain Journey

When we say yes to a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, God invites us on a journey with Him. It’s an unpredictable journey full of twists and turns, ups and downs. Considering that the length of this journey is lifelong, God allows us to take along some items for the trip, a spiritual knapsack, if you will. He knows we’re new to the terrain, so at first, He lets us take along whatever we like.

To accompany your newfound declaration of faith, you have likely chosen things like love, patience, and compassion for the journey. But inevitably, things like selfishness, anger, jealousy, pride, and deceit have found their way into your knapsack as well.

As you and your Lord journey together, with your permission of course, God begins to explore the items you’ve packed for the trip. When He finds items consistent with His nature, it pleases Him, and He shows you how to experience those things in even greater measure. If He sees love in your bag, He commends you for it because He is love. When He sees compassion in your bag, His heart is made happy because your heart mirrors His.

But from time to time, after sundown, when you make camp for the night and you sit near the campfire to warm yourself, God stumbles across something in your bag that troubles Him because He knows it will hinder you on your journey.

And He turns to you and tells you this is the part in the journey where you must let it go. All your crutches and hidden sins. The bad habits you picked up as a child that you just can’t seem to break. The bad attitude. The lust. The envy. The pride. He tells you it’s time to throw it into the fire and destroy it for good.

It is at this moment that you and I have a critical choice to make. Will we hold our knapsack tightly to our chest, insisting that our fear, sin, and limiting thought patterns are here to stay? Or will we, with heart racing and hands trembling, obey the voice of the Lord and forsake everything we have known so that we can give birth to the purpose and destiny God has had for us all along?

Getting it wrong

Can I be honest? At times I’ve gotten this right and willingly obeyed. But sometimes, I get it wrong.

Sometimes, I’m just way too comfortable in my typical way of doing things to acknowledge the fact that by bypassing God’s best for me, I’m actually sabotaging myself.

When your surrendered heart encounters the Living God and that fire starts to spark, everything in you not consistent with His nature will get destroyed. Your willingness to cooperate in this process will determine the intensity of the flames. This process doesn’t happen all at once or in a day. On the contrary, it is a lifelong process that describes the experience of every true believer.

God wants to destroy everything about you that isn’t consistent with His nature because it won’t serve you well on your journey to fulfill your destiny.

Sounds painful, doesn’t it?

It is.

But aren’t you thankful that it’s not the kind of pain that doesn’t amount to anything, that obnoxious, pointless pain, like stubbing your toe on the edge of the bed? No, it’s the kind of pain that has a purpose, that accomplishes a desired outcome. It’s much like going through the aches and pains of childbirth to bring about new life.

Birthing Pains

On a snowy day in January 2012, I woke up knowing that today would be the day. After nine months of morning sickness, back aches, and swollen feet, it was time for me to give birth to our third and final (emphasis on final) child. I told my husband that I felt like this would be the day of our child’s birth and he politely nodded, as if to say, “Yes, dear, that’s very nice,” as if he was a little skeptical—unmoved, even—about my declaration.

I was confused about his lack of emotional response, but he’s not really an over the top, dramatic kind of guy, so I brushed it off. Besides, there was much work to be done. I didn’t have time to dwell on such things.

I waddled up the steps to pack an overnight bag (why hadn’t I done already?) for my other two kids so they could spend a few nights with my parents while I was in the hospital. But with every move I made, the pain seemed to double, triple, and quadruple in magnitude until all I could do was lie on the floor with each contraction, waiting for the pain to subside.

I announced to my husband that we couldn’t wait any longer and we needed to get to the hospital right away, to which he responded, while washing dishes and packing up garbage to take outside, that I should just lie down. (Say what?!) It was as if he believed living through the prolonged labors of our other two children gave him some expertise on this particular day. Bless his heart, but clearly, it did not.

Despite our best efforts, we didn’t make it to the hospital that day. I gave birth to Nia Grace Parker in my car on the side of the road in some stranger’s yard, with the help of a disoriented husband and an ambulance crew that arrived just in time.

The second she was born, my shrieks of fear were replaced with calm. A peace. An inner quietness. So much so that one of the ambulance workers looked up at me and asked, “Ma’am, are you okay? You’re so quiet.”

“I’m fine,” I replied. “You don’t understand how good I feel.”

Relief.

Peace.

Calm.

This is what awaits us on the other side of the pain that comes as God destroys every hindrance out of our lives. It’s pain that serves a deep and profound purpose.

Had I not gone through the pain, as dramatic and terrifying as the whole ordeal was, I wouldn’t have given birth to my child. And so it is with you. Could it be that you have not yet given birth to the dreams, visions, and destiny God has for you because you don’t want to go through the pain of letting go of things you’ve held near and dear for far too long?

So much of what we pray for is on the other side of our pain.

Much of what we seek is birthed out of the process of God dismantling any and everything in our lives that doesn’t line up with His Word. When we navigate this process, we will find things like…

  •           Fullness of joy
  •           Freedom
  •           Transformation
  •           Breakthrough
  •           Deliverance
  •           Peace of mind
  •           Contentment
  •           Clarity
  •           Purpose
  •           Direction

Help is here

One thing I love about God is that He thinks of everything. Thank God He does not require you to change habits and thought patterns you’ve clung to for years and then leave you to work it all out yourself!

Knowing that we would not be able to attain a transformed life on our own, He left us with a guide who will direct us always. John 16:13 says,

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, God has blessed you with the Holy Spirit to walk with you, step by step and day by day on this journey. You don’t have to go it alone.

That’s God’s desire for you: that each second, day, and hour you walk lockstep with Him, through His Spirit. But the more you hold tightly to things He’s asked you to destroy, you’ll find that you’re not walking step by step, hand in hand with God. In fact, there will be distance between the two of you. It will be harder for you to perceive and understand His direction. And without Him close by, your spiritual passion will begin to fizzle. But when you allow God complete access to the details of your life, He is faithful to fan the flames of passion for Him within your heart. 


Today’s post is an excerpt from my book, Ignite: How to Fuel Your Soul’s Passion for God. Check it out here!

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