The flames will only make me stronger-Zeno
People often call the testing of God, “going through fire.”
Actually bad things in general are often called tests of fire too.
Right now it feels like the whole world is burning, being tested by fire.
One of my absolute favorite novel characters ends up in a burning building. You guessed it. Even though he is not the main hero he ends up having to save everyone from the collapsing, burning building. When the others argue about leaving him behind to be engulfed by fire he responds with: “don’t worry. The flames will only make me stronger.”
For those who are wondering, no, he does not die. Though badly burned, he makes it out alive.
Do we live like that? Do we see our “flames” as something that only makes us stronger?
I know that I don’t. Though the power and beauty of fire is nice at a distance, walking through that fire is not something to be called, “enjoyable”. But just because you hate it, and just because it hurts doesn’t mean that God isn’t making you stronger through it.
During these difficult times I challenge you to read through the story of the three Hebrew boys, pick the verse that most speaks to you, and put it up someplace in your home to remind you that the flames will make you stronger.
Sever skin from bone
-Snap- the screams echo through the halls. It’s dark and dry. Thirst. Need. Fear. Pain. -Snap- another shriek. Your turn next.
Trembling. Is this an illusion? A nightmare? No. The tearing at your skin from the rats shows that’s not true. Is anyone out there? Someone to save you. -Clink- Doors open. “Leave!” Gruff voice. Daylight. Tears. Relief.
Not yours. Out comes a man. His face is twisted and he drags his body as he walks. You run over just in time to catch Him.
“Sir. Are you alright?” Blood soaks your palms. A weak smile. Sweat. More tears.
A whisper. “For you, I did this.” Death.
3 days. Arms lift you up and spin you around. ALIVE! RISEN! FREE!
I hear the best torture professionals could sever skin from bone with a single lash. Have you ever had a cut bone deep? I have; it’s agonizing, I still have the scar.
Imagine 49 of those covering your body.
They spare some details in the movies because I am sure that Jesus wasn’t free standing, He most likely was tied to something to hold him still when they beat Him. Also. He probably threw up blood till He couldn’t anymore. The screams and cries of anguish, (anguish we should have bore) would have been sickening to the audience. It would not have been anywhere near as gentle as we see it in our minds.
Image one hundred billion names or more tattooed on the end of the whip. Look closely. There is your name. No! Don’t look away! Watch as it drives itself into your savior’s back. That is why we serve Him.
I know most people will walk away from this and shake their heads and try to remove these images. But don’t. Lest we ever forget that Jesus SUFFERED and died. Those lashes were yours, and mine.
Day of tears
‘Today is my day to sorrow’, thought the tiny flower growing beside a rock. ‘Last night a great trouble came over me as a man, or something more than a man, sat by my side and wept. His tears were so great that when they splashed upon me I felt sick and my roots were weakened. I tried to reach out to the man, but I am just a flower and cannot draw attention to myself like a bird can with her song. He cried and screamed and begged and pleaded, but no peace came to this man. I hoped that He would look at me and I could make Him smile. He left and then returned, even sadder when He came back. All I could do was sit with Him. Then I sensed a resolve in His being and He went to stand once more. He stumbled and His hands landed near me. I tried to be radiant to bring Him comfort, finally He saw me, He smiled very gently, then He rose to His feet. “Thank you my radiant flower.” He said, then He left.
I feel that something great and tragic happened that night. Today I feel as though a friend is calling out for mercy. Today I feel sad. But being a flower, I know that tomorrow will bring new joy and hope.’
Do we sometimes forget that Jesus is coming back?
As we go through our days it can feel like this world is forever spinning and never ending. It’s easy to forget that there is a greater purpose than this. It’s easy to get so caught up in the day to day that our minds completely lose focus on the fact that tomorrow, the next day, tonight, right now Jesus could be coming back. Jesus himself said that He did not know the hour that He would return. As the world and it’s forever spinning seems to be forever spinning off its axle I see people starting to fill with fear, that or they were full of fear already, because the world is a mess. I’m sorry but it is. Yes, it’s partly our fault, but we don’t need to look at this world with the fear that we will be here forever till it ends. When the world is finally burned up there will not be a single Christian on it. No matter if you are pre tribulation, mid tribulation, or post tribulation in the end when the world dies we will not be here. Let me repeat that we will not be here. Jesus is coming back. If you knew nothing else in your entire life except that one fact you would know the most important thing you need to know to survive. If there is no Jesus, there is no point. But we know there is a Jesus, our Jesus, and He is coming for His people.
What gifts do we bring Him?
The Shepherds brought their time.
The Magi brought their riches.
The disciples brought their lives.
His parents brought their faith and obedience.
So what do we bring Jesus?
He gave us everything we have. Hope, joy, healing, sustenance, peace, grace, love. He gave His dignity and His relationship to God. His pain is ours to unwrap, His grief and suffering, His sorrow. We can untie the bows on His glory and goodness. We can shake the box full of His kingdom and receive all He has given us. So, what are we giving Him?
What part of us does He ask for? All of us. Our heart, soul and mind, right? It can be a difficult request to fill, but isn’t that what He brought us? His heart, His soul, His mind. Ask and you shall receive, so maybe what we should ask for is the will and ability to be like our Savior. If we are more like Jesus then perhaps we will be able to bring Jesus more.
Love you all!
May your season and year be filled with Christ’s peace, His hope, His love, and His joy!
Sometimes it feels like we are clinging to Jesus by a thin thread. Like we don’t have anything left but a desire to hang on. Standing on a dark expanse of crumbling stone and seeing nothing around to pull you out. The earth shakes and more of what you are standing on falls away into the pitch black below. All you have is a thread, not large enough to even hold onto. You know it will slip from your fingers if it is all you have to cling to so you wrap it around and around and around your hand until there is no slack left in it to keep wrapping. At that moment the ground gives way and you descend with the debris into the darkness. Suddenly the thread catches and you jerk to a stop praying the thread does not break. The thin material cuts into your hand as it holds your weight and the pain draws forth tears. You feel as though your one lifeline will slice right through you and drop you to the blackness below. Your eyes close as a light appears above. You feel two hands clasp upon your wrist and lift you up, the sting of the thread releases as it slowly drops away and you open your eyes to see that the pain of the thread that you thought would slice through you was the thread tightening as you were being pulled up away from the crumbling world below.
Jesus will NEVER let you truly fall. There will ALWAYS be a thread to cling to and that thread, no matter how painful it may seem at the time, will be helping you pull away from the discarded world that filled your view with darkness. Jesus will always be reaching down and drawing you up into His arms; trust Him, He IS there and He will not give up because of the pain we cause Him, because that same thread is wrapped around His hand as He draws us out, it cuts into Him the same way it cuts into us. Our hurt filled words that crush Him as we are dying inside will never make Him leave us. He stays and pulls us up into a healing hug and cries with us. Because He loves you. He loves us. He is love.
Do you remember how in school every so often the teacher would insist upon doing trust exercises? You’d pair up and then take turns falling and catching each other. Usually you would choose to pair up with a friend right? You wanted to make sure that the person who was catching you was someone you could trust. When we pair up with Jesus we are falling blindly into His arms and trusting that He will catch us.
I can tell you that thinking back on those exercises I don’t remember the people I caught but I definitely remember the people I let fall, (by accident). How often do we feel like God has let us fall and then we focus on those times alone? Just a heads up God never lets you hit the ground. He always has a plan for you no matter how abandoned you may feel at times. Think on how many times God has caught you instantly when you trust fell into Him; those times will out number the amount of times He has let you dangle. Also try and look at the circumstances. It may be annoying to hear but try to see the good that can come out of God not catching you right away this time. I won’t do the eagle and nest quote but sometimes in our flailing we are able to find a stronger hold on Jesus. Even if you can’t see Him standing behind you, your friend Emmanuel is ready to catch you, you never fall past where God wants you because that’s where He will catch you.
Credit to owner for the cover image
Over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas I am going to do a devotional themed around favorite Christmas songs. Today’s song is ‘little drummer boy.’
Come they told me, a new born king to see. If someone came up to me on the street and said, “hey! Haven’t you heard? There’s a new king born today, hurry up we have to go see Him!” I would probably look at them with a, “say what?” Expression before nervously following along behind. On the road to what I assume is going to be the king’s palace someone looks at me and says, “where’s your gift? You did know you were supposed to bring one right?” Suddenly embarrassed I search my person and realize I have nothing, I’m not even wearing jewelery, all I have is me. I slowly shrink back in the crowd. When we reach where the baby king is residing I can’t see anything past the crowd but the one thing I do notice is that there is no looming palace staring me down, I also notice a lot of sheep running around and I am sure that I just heard a cow. Confused I slowly creep my way forward and peer down at the baby, laying in a manger, surrounded by sheep and chickens and a couple of farm dogs and cats. My face shows my shock as the baby’s mother looks up at me. I fumble with my hands. “I’m sorry, but, I didn’t bring anything to give Him.” She smiles gently, “my dear,” I hear her say, “we are not to bring gifts for Him, He is the gift for us. If all you can bring is yourself then you have brought all you truly have because nothing on this earth is really ours, it all already belongs to Him.” With that she cradles the baby closer and kisses His cheek. I am amazed as I see the baby look at me and smile a smile so healing all my pains, worries and fears die away.
Jesus doesn’t need anything from us, He already owns everything we call ours. He just wants us. We are all we truly own because we are the only thing we have a say over; it is our choice to follow Jesus or not, all He wants is for us to give ourselves back to Him so He can make us whole.