I love a roaring fire on a cold, wintry night. When the wind is howling and the snow is falling, there’s nothing better than feeling the warmth and smelling the logs as they burst forth in their fiery dance. 
When we went camping with our kids, our favorite time of the day was always the evening campfire. The best conversations were held as we sat mesmerized by the flames. And of course, our boys would continually be messing with it, feeding it new sticks and pinecones. Boys love fire!


Fire is very useful as well. It’s used to cook food, generate heat and light, draw impurities out of gold, keep predators at bay, forge metals like steel, plus many other invaluable uses.
But as you know, fire is also incredibly destructive. I think about the devastating wildfires that consumed so many homes in California this last year. Firefighters lost their lives battling the deadly infernos, and people lost everything they owned within minutes.
Fire definitely has two sides to it: it can be life-giving or life destroying.
Fire has been on my mind because I taught on this subject at our Choose Conferences this week. I shared a verse from Isaiah 43:2 which reads:
When you walk through persecution like fiery flames,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not harm you.

(The Passion Translation)
As I think about the fires, the struggles, that we go through in our lives, I realize that just like a physical fire, those fires can either be good or bad as well. They will never be enjoyable while we are walking through them, but the outcome can be positive or negative.

God revealed this truth early one morning:
When we go through the fire WITH God, we will be refined.
When we go through the fire WITHOUT God, we will be destroyed.

The Bible talks about the refiner’s fire in a number of places. David wrote about being refined by fire in the Psalms, and I love this verse from Zechariah:
I will refine them like silver
    and test them like gold.
They will call on my name

    and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’

    and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”
Zechariah 13:9 (NIV)
When we choose to walk through the fires of life with God, He will use them as our greatest teacher. That’s where the impurities in us and the seeds of disbelief get burned away. When we choose to stand strong in the heat, we become just a little bit more like Christ. There are lessons I never could have learned without the struggles I’ve been through, and I know the same is true for you.
And because of the redeeming love of our Father, when you trust God in spite of the fire you are walking through, you are an incredible witness to the world. When you handle pain with the hope we have in Christ, the world will notice. 
On the other side, if we don’t walk through those fires with Christ, they have the potential to destroy us. I’m sure you know of at least one person who has been destroyed by the fires in their lives. 
What fire are you in right now? Where is life turning up the heat?
I would challenge you to be on watch for the refining. Make sure your heart is open to the teaching and correction God has waiting for you in the midst of it.
And no matter how hot that fire may get, remember that when you go through the fire WITH God, it will be an opportunity for incredible growth. You will come out of it refined and stronger than before.
Hugs and love,

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