“And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire engulfing itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of its midst as the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire” Ezekiel 1:4
Over the years, I have seen many in the Church asking for the fire of God to burn in their hearts and lives. Fists held high and sweat on their brow, they shout, “Lord, come with your fire!” “Let your fire fall in this place!” “Let your fire fall on our ministries!” “Come consume us, Lord!” This is almost always met by cheers from a hungry congregation who desperately want to see the Lord move in their midst. While it’s honorable that our heart’s cry is to see our lives/ministries/region/generation transformed for the glory of God, do we really understand what it is we are asking?
I’ve seen the Lord answer this cry in several ways in my own personal life, and yes, His answer is every bit as glorious as we think it is. However, recently, I’ve discovered that there is a less pleasant way He likes to go about answering this prayer at times. I was scarcely prepared. I hope I can prepare some of you that have been asking for this all-consuming fire that comes from God and is God Himself (Hebrews 12:29).
2019 was a year of great testing for me. The Lord was with me the entire time as He led me through the valley of the shadow of death, but several times, I was at risk of losing my sanity, my hope, my prophetic gifting, and the destiny the Lord had imagined for me. Voices surrounded me constantly, and like a child can identify the voice of her dad in a crowd, I had to identify which voice was the voice of my Father speaking in the midst of a room full of other prophetic people, demons, and the thoughts of my own mind and what I believed He was telling me. Dreams, visions, words from the Lord, and demonic attacks were commonplace, but it was here that the Lord was sharpening me. My battleground doubled as my training ground in that season.
Jesus, the Loving Blacksmith: A Vision
Yesterday, I was at church, and a sweet lady who I never met before prayed for me. As she prayed, she said, “You are God’s secret weapon! The world would not expect this from a pretty little blonde girl. You’re His secret weapon!” She prayed for many other things, but that phrase, in particular, stuck out to me, not because I think I’m anything special, but because I had a feeling the Lord wanted to expand on that more.
I moseyed up to the front as worship began. The events of 2019 almost sucked me dry, and I was tired, but I was determined to worship the Lord with everything I had in me. Then, I had a vision. It wasn’t a very strong-sighted vision, but it was impactful, nonetheless. I saw Jesus with a blacksmith’s apron on with a sword in his hand. He took this sword that looked a bit bent out of shape and immediately thrust it into a dangerously hot furnace. He waited, took it out, and let it cool for a bit, not letting it cool too much lest it become hard and unworkable, but not working on it while it was too hot and flimsy lest it become even more distorted. He then put the sword on a flat surface and took out a mallet. I held my breath as he raised it high, and suddenly, it clicked. That sword is ME.
He beat that sword over and over and over again, and every time He did, it was almost as if I could feel pain. In my head, I was saying, “OUCH! Lord, that hurts! What are you doing?!” but inwardly, I understood, so I braced myself as I watched the rest of the scene unfold. With every strike of the mallet, every dent and imperfection was being beaten out and bent back into shape. It was mesmerizing and beautiful to watch Him, but almost unbearably uncomfortable at the same time. Next, just when I thought I couldn’t take anymore, He took the sword and sat next to a grindstone wheel. “Lord, I don’t know if I’m gonna make it!” I said, wincing. Determined to finish His work, He slid the sword back and forth on the grindstone until it was good and sharp. I released a sigh of relief when He finished and focused on the end product that I now saw before me, which was a dazzling weapon ready to take into battle. He seemed pleased with His work.
Through it all, despite how painful it was, and especially at the end of the process, I couldn’t help but say, “What an honor it is to be tested, tried, and purified in your fire, God! It was painful, but it was necessary. Thank you for what You have done. You’ve strengthened me by breaking me!”
Our Faith Tested by Fire
If you believe Jesus is Lord and are going to represent Him in any capacity, you should expect to be tried by His fire, not just once, but many times over. It’s a requirement, but it isn’t something to be fearful of. Rather, it should be embraced wholeheartedly as He takes us from glory to glory, and He can begin trusting us more because He sees more of His perfect character being formed within us. Peter put it this way: “In this you rejoice greatly, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, which is much more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested and purified by fire, may be found to result in [your] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ, and though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and though you do not even see Him now, you believe and trust in Him and you greatly rejoice and delight with inexpressible and glorious joy ” (1 Peter 1:6-8).
Jesus’s first commandment is that we love Him with all our mind, heart, soul, and strength (Luke 10:27). Our minds will be tested by fire as we learn to discern between the enemy’s voice, God’s voice, and our voice. Our hearts will be tested by fire as the fulfillment of our fleshly or ambitious desires become readily available, and we have to decide whether we love the Lord more than our own desires. Our souls will be tested by fire as it becomes increasingly difficult to follow Jesus in the face of persecution and a world that says He isn’t worth it. Lastly, the strength of our love for Him will be tested as we face situations that we feel we can’t endure, the presence of God seems nowhere to be found, and all we have are memories of His faithfulness in past seasons. During these times, we should seek to be like Moses, whom “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27). He endured every fiery trial because he fixed His eyes on the Man of fire, and was strengthened by Him.
Our Works Tested by Fire
How would you feel if you made it your life’s purpose to build the most excellent, architecturally sound, theoretically integrous skyscraper you can think of, only to see it collapse in an earthquake before your very eyes the day after you finished building it? You’d be watching your whole investment of millions of dollars, decades of time, and your general hopes and dreams, once a towering marvel, be reduced to rubble as the truth of its actual integrity is ultimately revealed.
Now imagine you’ve made it your life’s purpose to build a large ministry with a huge following, carefully nurtured over many years. You love Jesus, but you admit that some of the metaphorical pillars that you built your ministry upon were used to build your own kingdom instead of His–these weren’t the choicest materials in which to build this ministry, so it begins to falter. At the end of your life, the Righteous Judge brings the fire down over these works to see what remains. To your dismay, the only thing that remains of the building is its foundation. You’re surprised that everything that was on top of it went up in flames so quickly, but are ultimately thankful that a useful part of it is left, and luckily, it’s just enough to pass the test.
Paul tells us that every believer’s work will endure such a test, no matter what kind of ministry they had throughout their lifetime. He says, “But each one must be careful how he builds on [the foundation], for no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will be clearly shown [for what it is]; for the day [of judgment] will disclose it, because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality and character and worth of each person’s work. If any person’s work which he has built [on this foundation, that is, any outcome of his effort] remains [and survives this test], he will receive a reward. But if any person’s work is burned up [by the test], he will suffer the loss [of his reward]; yet he himself will be saved, but only as [one who has barely escaped] through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). This experience will either be really painful or really wonderful, depending on how carefully we build God’s kingdom. In the end, the fire will reveal the truth of all the works we’ve done in His name.
If you’re going to ask the Lord to come with His fire, don’t be surprised if the fires of His testing come and He throws you in a furnace to be molded and shaped for His plans and purposes for your life. He doesn’t do it to destroy you but to make you more effective, and He can’t mold a person that isn’t hot. We are His labor of love–His masterpieces–and no one calls something a “masterpiece” unless it is built with intention (Ephesians 2:10). And if we believers are considered God’s masterpiece and God has good and pure intentions, then how much more wonderful is that masterpiece!
So Lord, come with your fire and help us not to resist You when You don’t come in the way that we expect. We embrace the love that’s in your discipline because Your heart can be trusted. Thank You that You promise to complete the work You started in each of us, and You have a beautiful image in mind. Make us look more like You, in Jesus’ name, Amen!
Further reading for study:
- Isaiah 6:1-5
- Revelations 3:18
- Ezekiel 1
- 1 Kings 18:24
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on AwesomeSierra
Featured Image by Jens Rasch from Pixabay
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