You know the saying, “Where there is smoke…there is fire.”
Do you smell like smoke?
I often tell people that “every crisis is an opportunity” and that patience is also translated “long suffering.” It seems that the longer I minister to people and walk with friends through the realities of living in a fallen world, the more I am convinced that one of the clearest signs of God’s Spirit in them is perseverance through hardship. I’m not saying it is pretty (it’s usually a hot mess!) or any of us do it perfectly (we stumble and fall on our face most of the way!) or ever desire it (we usually run from it!), but there is a unique aroma that comes off a person when God has taken them through His refining fire.
It is the fragrant aroma of offering up incense unto the Lord!
Where there is smoke, there is fire…
James scandalously invites us to allow the unquenchable fire of God’s holiness to do a work in our lives through the most undesirable of circumstances: “Count it all joy, my brothers [and sisters], when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
God’s fire refines us so that we reflect to the world more and more the presence and power of the perfect One. It is a journey of grace and at the end of it… You will be “lacking in nothing” because your life will be an offering up of incense to the Lord!
Your desperate grip on life will have been broken (yet again!) …
Your disillusionments on what life should provide for you shall be burst like old wine skins (yet again!) …
Your desires for something other than God will have been pealed back like another thin layer of an onion (and you will find yourself crying yet again!) …
Do you want your life to be a fragrant offering to God?
Then you must let God’s fire work…which means, you can’t do everything in your power to get out of the fire…you must steadfastly, with long suffering, remain in His presence and allow His work to be brought to completion.
Can I be honest with you (can you handle my honesty?): This really stinks! I don’t always like the smell of smoke, it often repulses me and makes me want to leave the room… But there is a difference between cigarette smoke and the incense of godly suffering. Know the difference; run from the one and run to the other.
Does your life offer up incense (a fragrant aroma of praise) to the One who walks through the valley of the shadow of death with you?
Jesus Christ is your good shepherd…His rod and staff comfort you! Trust His grace today… Fully, unreservedly, scandalously… It’s the way of peace in life’s trials and hardships.