Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.Isaiah 48:10 NKJV
There was this book I read in elementary school, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. I don’t remember much of the book, but I remember one scene. It was winter and the main character (whose name I forgot) woke up to a loud thunderous crack. Ice had gotten into a tree and expanded the insides so much that it broke. I don’t remember much after that scene or why that in itself was a problem, I just remembered that little tidbit. Ice can expand and break something from the inside out.
That’s why I guess I always found the question, if you had to die by freezing or burning which would you choose, funny. Because in my mind, how are we freezing, outside in or inside out? How are we burning, outside in, inside out? Because those are two very different experiences that will affect my choice.
In a weird way, you can control or avoid one. If it’s outside in, you are choosing to stay in that outside environment. The choice of not fighting or giving up is your choice. Someone could even blame the environment for what happened! In a weird way, burning or freezing from the outside in is much easier to accept than either one being inside out.
When something is inside you, there’s a reality that you have to accept that you can’t do anything. There is something inside of you, hurting you, causing you pain, and someone else has to help you, someone else has to save you, (and in Ridley Scott’s Alien franchise, if something is inside, then you’re done for and all hope is lost).There’s a vulnerability when something comes inside of us. The fear that whatever comes in will break us and we won’t be able to see it before it’s too late almost becomes reality.
So why the deep talk about burning or freezing inside out or outside in, because we are. Whether we realize it or not, we make that choice every day. What are we going to let in today, ice or fire? The cold waxed love of this world, or God’s all-consuming fire?
I got some really bad news, one of my grandfather’s died. I wasn’t extremely close to him, but I remember him. The first time he took me on his Harley, helmet just a bit too big and my glasses too big for goggles. It was great. The wind in my hair, the rumble of the engine that consumed my laughter, and feeling his chuckle as he heard me laugh. Ever since that ride, I told him that if I ever got a boyfriend (because I was like ten at the time), he had to ride a motorcycle. He laughed and said he would have to talk to this so-called boyfriend first. Then life happened, I grew up and I went half-way across the world. I still talked to him and would call him for his birthday, he would ask about that boyfriend, and that was that.
That one memory, it sparked something. It sparked emotions (and a fascination of motorcycles). There was a fire started inside my heart. Now the person who sparked that, is gone. There’s this empty space that he had. Emotions tied to him are now tied to nothing in this empty space. And for a moment, for a quick moment, I wondered if it was okay to feel nothing, to be fine.
That’s how the world gets us, I think. It tells us we can escape, or gives us ways to be okay or fine. Ways to fill what that missing spark burned inside of us. A salve if you will. But what happens when that salve gets cold, what happens when it freezes. All of the sudden, you find yourself addicted to food, to staying in shape, to drugs, to alcohol, to our responsibilities, to attention. That thing wormed its way inside of you and expanded till all that’s left are pieces of who you were.
And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.Matthew 24: 11-13
Then there’s God, the all-consuming fire. The being who loved you so much He gave His only son as a sacrifice for you. Pretty intimidating. Especially when it comes to how He wants to heal that spark. He doesn’t just want to be an inside or outside type of thing. He wants ALL. Inside and outside, up and down, left and right, He wants you.
Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire.Hebrews 12:28-29
So, He will wrap His heat and love around you like gold in a furnace. And when something is put in a furnace, the bad things are burned off, but it also melts together. What was once empty becomes filled. It might look a little different than what you expected, but it’s stronger. It’s full.
Loss, separation, abandonment, hurt, can leave us with empty spaces that we don’t know how to heal, fix, or fill. But we can choose what we put inside of us. The salve of this world, or the all-consuming fire of God. Fire or ice?