Hi Friends! This week I had a conversation with a friend. Buried beneath the circumstances she faced, we uncovered what God is teaching her in this season of life. I encouraged her by sharing a story from my journey. Approaching the weekend, I sensed I should share this story here too.
Mothering small children means plans you make at the beginning of a week will not actually be accomplished because real life creeps into your planner. It’s just for fun that you write things down, so you can crumple it up later. And because you cling to hope, you try try again the following week to end up in a repeat cycle. That’s okay and almost eight years into this motherhood business I’m (barely) learning to go with the flow.
On this particular week a few years ago, it was no different. Plans drafted, then a child diagnosed with strep throat. The rest of the children began dropping like flies too. I was exhausted and scared for the life of my own throat, so back to the doctor we went.
All three children were with me for this visit. The one with a confirmed case of strep, the teething one, and the one that probably had it too because of his irritable nature. Oh, and me, the Mom. The one trying to keep it together. (By “keep it together,” I mean secretly eating the kids’ gummy bears in the front seat of the car).
Pulling into the pediatrician's parking lot, I mentally counted the components of my “bribery bag” hoping I had enough lollipops and snacks to make it through the appointment. I noticed we were ten minutes early and paused to take a deep breath before unloading my crew. Calming my soul I sensed to pray protection over our family, so I prayed Psalm 91. Afterwards I opened my door to get the stroller and heard the Holy Spirit words,
“You left the oven on.”
Oh my gosh. I completely forgot I turned it on. It was a busy morning, so my plans of making waffles to include in the "bribery bag" never happened. I was frustrated with myself because I had to drive back home, with my less than patient travelers, and hope the doctor’s office would be flexible when I notified them. Also important, I hoped we wouldn’t find our home in flames when we returned.
Fifteen minutes later, I turned onto our street, and could see the outside of our home wasn’t engulfed in flames. I parked on the street and ran inside. Instantly, I smelled smoke. I rounded the corner into my kitchen and was deeply thankful not to be greeted with fire. I turned off the oven and stepped far back while I barely opened the oven door. Peering into the oven, there was only smoke, no fire. I was relieved.
I turned around to head back to the car, but was abruptly stopped by the Holy Spirit,
“You will smell the smoke, Daughter, but you won’t be burned.”
That moment will be etched in my soul forever. I remember praising Him before I walked back to the car. His words completely shifted the atmosphere of my soul that day.
In 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NIV) we learn,
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
Later in verse 19, we are taught in our suffering “to commit ourselves to our faithful Creator and do good.”
Friend, the circumstance we face is only smoke; it can’t burn us. It is not a wildfire, but contained by God Almighty. We might be getting heat hot and concerned it will leave a contact burn, but the truth is we are being refined through our circumstances. Refined to become more like Jesus. Refined as His disciple. Refined as a deposit into our already written future by the Author of our Faith. Don’t plan an escape route. Instead, we can trust the Word of God to lead us through seasons of suffering and seasons of celebration.
That day the Lord used this situation to reveal to me the lie I was wrestling with at the time: “Life will probably stay this way, or get worse, so get used to it.”
The truth is there is an enemy fighting for our soul. We learn in John 10:10 ESV, “the thief comes only to kill and steal and destroy.” The enemy can only lie. However, the second part of John 10:10 we learn the truth that our Good Shepherd, Jesus, “came that we may have life and have it abundantly.”
We have a promise in scripture of abundant life in Jesus. Our soul was designed for abundance and flourishing. The fire forms our soul in a way we can faithfully steward future seasons by His Word. The fire gives us a view of our rock bottom reality...Who we really are without all the fancy things and comforts of life surrounding us. It is a humbling experience that I am wildly grateful for now. In seasons of refinement we build trust in God. This trust is a foundation of truth essential to uphold the future layers that will lay upon this Rock.
Friend, may we lean into God as the fire feels fiercer than before. Instead of asking, “why,” may we ask Him to reveal His truth to us in the midst of the flames. As we smell smoke may we not let it lead our actions or decisions. May we abide in our Refuge, Jesus, bearing His fruit and walking in His nature. May we remember this is a momentary affliction and His glory outweighs it all. May we rejoice in all things.
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG
The fire will fizzle out in His timing. Nothing can stop His sovereign plan for your life. You will reflect upon this time and be thankful for how He cultivated your heart in this season. You are a beloved child of God and never alone.
DEAR ONE, DON’T ESCAPE FROM GOD’S MENDING GRACE, FOR A MOSAIC OF THE BROKEN PLACES HE WILL CREATE.
May you breathe in His grace this weekend, Friend.