Growing up in Australia, bushfires are a normal part of life. They arrive without warning, and their effects are felt long after the fire has been extinguished.
I live in Los Angeles now, but I guess word spread, because those fires followed me, in more ways than one. As sure as fall comes with pumpkin spice lattes, or Beyoncé comes with a fierce dance troupe, life comes with fires… So what do we do when they hit?
What do we do when the fires of life arrive without warning, leaving devastating effects long after they’re gone?
Maybe you have had to walk through a fire this year, or you are still feeling the effects of a fire from last year. Perhaps this month has already brought you a fire, one you weren’t expecting, but which has left you dreading the rest of the year.
And you’re attempting to pick up the pieces.
I’ve always loved the book of Daniel in the Bible. In it we find three friends (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) who didn’t just see a fire, or feel its heat, but were thrown intothat fire. And get this, they actually left the fire, alive.
One of my favorite verses in the bible is this:
“All the important people, the government leaders and king’s counselors, gathered around to examine them and discovered that the fire hadn’t so much as touched the three men—not a hair singed, not a scorch mark on their clothes, not even the smell of fire on them!” Daniel 3:27 (The Message)
I wonder how many times we’ve been through a fire, and though we made it out alive, we still ‘smell of smoke’ years later? How often do we hold onto an offense long after our friend/spouse/coworker has said something hurtful? How long will we refuse to pick up the phone and call that person, because we feel hurt?
How long will we continue to ‘smell of smoke’?
When I read this story closely, I notice one thing that protected these boys from burning, heat exhaustion and smoke. I think if we apply it, we have a sure-fire (pardon the pun) way to come out of our fires, not just alive, but smoke-free. Because in case you haven’t heard, smoking kills!
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego weren’t alone in the fire. Jesus was in the fire with them and everyone around them noticed (and had a mild heart attack). Read it for yourself in Daniel 3:24-25 (The Message Version is my favorite).
If we want to come out of the fire without smelling like smoke, we have to invite Jesus into the fire with us.
So how do we do that? I think there are four simple steps to bringing Jesus into our fire:
1. Admit the fire.
After all, it’s hard to ask for help when we refuse to admit we need it. We all walk through fires; some of us are just better at seeing the flames than other people. There’s no shame in facing a fire, but there is danger in facing it alone.
2. Ask for help.
I’m sure there are one trillion (totally a number) reasons you shouldn’t ask for help in your fire. Maybe you lit the match that started it. Maybe you feel burned already and help feels, well, helpless. Maybe you feel like you have been screaming SOS and there has been no relief. I don’t know what your reason is, but I do know we can call on the one who promises to answer.
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He rescued them from their distresses.” Psalm 107:6 (Amplified)
I don’t know when He will answer. I just know He will. I’m learning this: God rarely gives us a timeframe but He always gives us a testimony.
3. Assume the position.
I love when people put words to my worship. The lyrics to one Hillsong United song might be my favorite, “I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground.”
I was always taught that moving along the ground is the safest place in a physical fire. As my schoolteacher once told me, ‘get down low and go, go, go.’ I’d say it’s the same in the fires of life too. Find yourself in a fire? Perhaps on our knees is the safest place to be.
4. Accept the Savior.
Sometimes when Jesus shows up in the fire, we are so busy with the hose trying to fight the flames that we don’t think to rely on the One who calmed the wind and waves (and flames). Remember, when Jesus shows up, it’s show-time. So sweet one, hand over the hose and watch the Master at work. You’ll be out of that fire with your Savior in no time.
Maybe you are in a fire right now. If so, take heart. A fire is not forever. Keep moving, you will reach the other side.
And once you get through your fire? Tell your story. I’m learning that people relate more to my trials than my triumphs. If you can walk through your fire and not ‘smell like smoke’ on the other side, it’s a miracle! People want to know that you made it out, because it means they can too.
But for right now? Keep moving. He’s right by your side. You’ll be out in no time.
As Seen In Propel Magazine -- September 2016