Refined by Fire

Refined through Fire

Refined by Fire

October 17, 2019

Real gold fears no fire. -Randy Alcorn

In my area of the country, fall appeared almost overnight. As the temperature dropped, we caught ourselves ditching sandals and donning sweaters. 

Chilly weather invites the warmth of a cozy fire. Reading as I sit by the fireplace will always top my list of favorite things.

But not all fires radiate gentleness and comfort. Especially those that rage unexpectedly into our lives in the form of adversity.

As a young Christian, I learned God refines us through adversity in the same way gold is refined by fire. Applying heat to gold causes impurities to rise and to be scraped off. The process reaches completion when the refiner can see his reflection in the gold. 

Adversities in our lives work in the same way. Heat from tribulations force our impurities into the open, so we can work to overcome them. The process will only be complete when our refiner, Jesus, can see His reflection in us.

I love this analogy. As a young and rash (although at the time I preferred the word zealous) Christian, I often prayed for the Lord to “put me through the fire”. Honestly, He never failed to deliver on that prayer!

Although being Christ-like remained my goal, I noticed my prayers began to temper over the years. After becoming a wife and mother, I realized the most painful fires in life come through attacks to my loved ones. Afraid to see them suffer, I stopped asking for the “refining fires”.

Recently, I learned something about fires. Foresters use a strategy called a prescribed fire to restore the health of an ecosystem. Without fires, forests becomes overcrowded with trees, species dependent on fires disappear, and flammable fuels create a hazard. Rangers carefully manage such fires so they will replenish nutrients to the soil and help plants grow.

In the same way, our Father knows when we need a prescribed fire. He lovingly places fires in our lives to help us grow into the image of His son. But He also promises to manage them perfectly:

When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2b)

We can pray for them; we can pray against them. But fires will come into our lives because our Father knows we need them. They take many different forms: rocky relationships, health scares, financial struggles, stressful work situations…

But needing fires doesn’t equal wanting or enjoying them. 

Once, during a particularly difficult time, I muttered, “After all of this, I’d better be perfect!” As I heard my words, I felt the sting of conviction. My words reminded me of the following truth:

The Lord perfects us through the fires He prescribes.

Recently my journey seems riddled with the fires of life. As I move forward, I pray to trust the One who prescribed them. If fires light your path these days, I pray you, too, may find comfort in the One who lovingly controls the fires He sends.

Refined by Fire

October 17, 2019

Refined through Fire

Real gold fears no fire. -Randy Alcorn

In my area of the country, fall appeared almost overnight. As the temperature dropped, we caught ourselves ditching sandals and donning sweaters. 

Chilly weather invites the warmth of a cozy fire. Reading as I sit by the fireplace will always top my list of favorite things.

But not all fires radiate gentleness and comfort. Especially those that rage unexpectedly into our lives in the form of adversity.

As a young Christian, I learned God refines us through adversity in the same way gold is refined by fire. Applying heat to gold causes impurities to rise and to be scraped off. The process reaches completion when the refiner can see his reflection in the gold. 

Adversities in our lives work in the same way. Heat from tribulations force our impurities into the open, so we can work to overcome them. The process will only be complete when our refiner, Jesus, can see His reflection in us.

I love this analogy. As a young and rash (although at the time I preferred the word zealous) Christian, I often prayed for the Lord to “put me through the fire”. Honestly, He never failed to deliver on that prayer!

Although being Christ-like remained my goal, I noticed my prayers began to temper over the years. After becoming a wife and mother, I realized the most painful fires in life come through attacks to my loved ones. Afraid to see them suffer, I stopped asking for the “refining fires”.

Recently, I learned something about fires. Foresters use a strategy called a prescribed fire to restore the health of an ecosystem. Without fires, forests becomes overcrowded with trees, species dependent on fires disappear, and flammable fuels create a hazard. Rangers carefully manage such fires so they will replenish nutrients to the soil and help plants grow.

In the same way, our Father knows when we need a prescribed fire. He lovingly places fires in our lives to help us grow into the image of His son. But He also promises to manage them perfectly:

When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2b)

We can pray for them; we can pray against them. But fires will come into our lives because our Father knows we need them. They take many different forms: rocky relationships, health scares, financial struggles, stressful work situations…

But needing fires doesn’t equal wanting or enjoying them. 

Once, during a particularly difficult time, I muttered, “After all of this, I’d better be perfect!” As I heard my words, I felt the sting of conviction. My words reminded me of the following truth:

The Lord perfects us through the fires He prescribes.

Recently my journey seems riddled with the fires of life. As I move forward, I pray to trust the One who prescribed them. If fires light your path these days, I pray you, too, may find comfort in the One who lovingly controls the fires He sends.

4 Comments

  1. Jody R on October 18, 2019 at 10:15 AM

    Dear Shirley,
    Spot on, as always!! I certainly am living in the “little fires everywhere” camp with you!!! I so appreciate you sharing these thoughts and truths and especially this line in particular…”
    Adversities in our lives work in the same way. Heat from tribulations force our impurities into the open, so we can work to overcome them. The process will only be complete when our refiner, Jesus, can see His reflection in us.”

    WOW, this pricked my ol’ heart and brought such a tender desire to keep being refined, even if it is screaming and kicking along the way!
    From my heart to yours….JODY

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on October 19, 2019 at 10:54 AM

      Thank you Jody! Knowing the fires are there to perfect us helps me bear their heat! But it is still painful at times! Thank you for sharing! My heart is always with you!💕

  2. Armelle Neboit on October 22, 2019 at 1:59 AM

    Thank you Shirley I love the way you are describing the refining process. I realize I do not like the impurities being exposed but if I look at my life and my experiences it is precisely from my places of sin and weakness that I have built the strongest places now. Some anchors for my soul!

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on October 22, 2019 at 7:24 AM

      What a beautiful reflection, Armelle. Such a heart-felt testimony to God’s transformative process! I am so grateful for your encouragement.

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