In The Hot Seat

Have you ever had one of those moments when you’ve realized that you have heard the same thing from two different people and you wonder if the message that God has given them for their growth and encouragement may have actually been for you? This is where I am currently.

Recently, the men from our church attended a men’s retreat.  They were at a facility that is in the country.  And since God created man to be hunter/gatherers, they fished, did ropes courses and built fires. It was in the building of fires that God spoke. The men collected sticks, that represented their past.  Each one, when they were ready to let go, threw their sticks into the fire.  It was a pivotal moment for many men.  It was a pivotal moment for my husband.

In the brief time between their return and when I needed to be back at the church, he began telling me about the stick story and I couldn’t help but think, “that’s good.”  It gave understanding to Isaiah 61:3, “he bestows a crown of beauty instead of ashes.”  Our ugly past and our beautiful feature.

The same evening, I was talking to a friend.  She was telling me how God has been working on some things in her life; He is refining her.  We talked for a few more minutes about this and about what God is working to remove from our lives.  It was an interesting conversation because, not only was I able to put voice to something that God has been working on in me, causing me to be accountable to a trusted friend, but it also caused me to think a lot about fire.

As I sat and thought about fire and the uses of it, I couldn’t help but think about the many reference to fire in the Bible.  God used fire to consume offerings and He gave it to His people as they wondered in the wilderness; we read all over the Bible about fire being used to forge, refine and consume. God himself is referred to ask our Consuming Fire in Hebrews12:29.

When I think about the words refining and forging, I think of all of the blacksmith shops I have stood in with Jim while he watched and asked questions of the smith as he worked.   I don’t remember any of the smiths ever being small men, they were always big and wide shouldered from years of swinging a hammer.  When a smith starts a project, he has an idea in mind of what the end result will be, a promise.  He knows that with a little patience and a lot of fire, he will get his desired outcome.

That’s how God is with us.  He refines us by burning out the impurities.  This part hurts, because this is often the time that God makes us deal with the things that have been holding us down.  These are the things in our life that we have held onto because we unknowingly have found comfort in them. This could be things like rejection, unworthiness, or a feeling of hopelessness. But, it can also be as big as un-repented sin in your life that you need to release and ask forgiveness for. Once the impurities have been purged, then God starts the molding process.

Doesn’t molding sound so much nicer than forge? But, that is what is really happening.  God gives us time to cool down into a solid form, then, He sticks us back into the fire.  This time, the fire isn’t burning off anything, it’s making us soft, so God can craft us into His vision, His promise.

If you have watched the blacksmith at work, they put the metal into the fire and hold it there for a few minutes.  Not too long, because it will become too soft and unusable. Not too quick or it can’t be formed.  It has to stay in the fire for that perfect amount of time to be usable.  Then, the molding starts.  Did I say that purifying was painful?  It didn’t involve a hammer.  This is when God starts twisting us and turning us; this is the time when you think you have it all together but God knows different.  He sees a bend in us, so He hammers it out.  He sees a sharp point, so He files it down.  He sees an area that is preventing you from moving the way He intended for you to move, so He may put you in the vise to shape you even more.  And, after all of that, if you are still struggling, you make go right back into the fire to start the process again.

Do not lose heart, He is only trying to rid us of things like pride, control, fear, doubt, or any other that seem to keep us from walking fully in the direction God is leading.  Putting you in the hot seat isn’t to hurt you, it’s to make you better, stronger, and so much wiser.  Remember, He is a consuming fire and once you’ve sat in the hot seat a few times, letting God do what He needs to in your life, then you will be able to walk in His promise.

Hot Seat

More than Ordinary

The other day, I was reading in Isaiah. I’m sure I’m like most other people who try to get in some kind of daily Bible reading, hoping that God will speak to you through His word with some profound revelation that will change the world. Actually, usually I am just hoping for something to get me through the day.

So anyway, I’m reading Isaiah 8:1, it says, “The Lord said to me, ‘Take a large scroll and write on it with an ordinary pen’.” I just couldn’t get past the word ‘ordinary,’ so I looked at other translations to see if they used the same word or if I would find more clarity.

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What I found, spoke to me in some pretty amazing ways. While some translations talked about an actual pen or writing instrument, others referred to the “pen” as a way of writing, like word usage. The one thing they all shared is the use of the words ordinary or common, indicating it was something that everyone would understand.

Now, to catch you up on what is going on in Isaiah at the time, the Jews, God’s chosen people, are in a mess. They are acting crazy and God is about the rain down some holy judgement. He has been speaking to Isaiah the prophet who has been giving God’s message to the people. At this particular point, God has already told Isaiah that he would father a son and also foretold of the virgin birth. What God tells Isaiah to write down, is the name that Isaiah would eventually name his son, but he doesn’t know that’s what it is when he writes it down.

I’m sure at this point you are asking what that has to do with the pen. Well, I’m going to tell you. What spoke to me is this is Isaiah the Prophet! To us, he is famous. During his time on earth, he was famous as was his wife. They were prophet rock stars. Yet, when God told him to write something down, he didn’t just say to write it down, He was specific in what Isaiah should use.

So often, we just look at ourselves as ordinary. We compare ourselves to our friends, people we don’t know but wish we did, to our church leaders and even to celebrities. We do not see any value in ourselves, because we are so busy looking at what we don’t have that someone else does. We spend so much time wishing that we could speak like Beth Moore or Lisa Bevere, or wish we could write like Mary Connealy or Tricia Goyer. We wish we could sing like Lauryn Dagle or Shara Taylor. We say things like, “if I were pretty like her, or skinny like her, then God could use me.”

The reality is that God does use you and will use you right where you are, if you will just let Him. In your circle of influence, you are probably speaking life to those around you all the time. You are making a difference in ways that Beth Moore and Lauryn Dagle can’t, because it’s your circle, not theirs. God has placed you there with purpose. He is speaking to your heart and guiding you to do what He has called you to do. You may feel ordinary, but you are far from it.

God used what seemed ordinary to Isaiah and probably those in close proximity to him, but to the world outside, it was exactly what the people needed to bring understanding. So, when you are feeling like you can never add up to the image that you have set for yourself, you’re right, you won’t. But, when you look to God to guide your steps He will do amazing things through you. The only difference between you and the Beth Moore’s of the world is the platform that God has given you to use. They are just ordinary people who let an extraordinary God direct their destiny. That, my friend, is all you have to do, be you. God designed you that way.

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