The first time I heard those words was on the radio as they spoke of a man who had a house fire. He had literally ran through the fire to escape and did not get burned. They referred to the verse from Isaiah 43:2***,
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you."
The next day,I was on facebook and there on a friend's profile status was the vey same verse I had heard the day before, Isaiah 43:2. I began to take notice.
I questioned if maybe GOD was trying to tell me something but in my heart, I knew the answer. You see, I don't believe in coincidences. I started to get nervous.
Guess what...the day after that, I sat down to read GOD's word. And whatever I was studying lead me to Psalm 66. As I read it, I came across some familiar words, yep, fire and water.
Psalm 66:12 says, "YOU made men ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water, yet YOU brought us out into a place of abundance."
I thought to myself, "No, please, no, GOD. I have been through so much already." My second thought was, "Maybe HE means good fire and water."
So I flipped opened my bible to another page, randomly, and guess what was on that page, verses with the words fire and water in them. And then I again flipped open another section of my bible and believe it or not, there were more verses with the words fire and water. I then knew, without any doubt, that it was confirmed, fire and water was coming, and there was nothing I could do about it.
Over the next few weeks, the fire and water did come. We ended up owing the IRS a large amount of money that we weren't expecting, two of my children had some serious health struggles, I found out that in addition to my already present heart condition, I had high cholesterol which I should have been tested for but never was. Which resulted in having to add to my seven times a day medicine regiment to eight times a day. Then I recieved the news that my sister had weeks, then just days to live, after expecting her to live up to two more years. Then dealing with her death.
These are just some of the trials that came my way after I got that message from GOD.
I say all this to say that it was not easy, oh no. There were days I wanted to quit. Days, that I doubted GOD's love for me. Days that I thought HE played favorites. Days where I saw what appeared to be the wicked prospering. Days that I hated myself and everything around me.
But I just kept realizing that I had nowhere else to go. No one could help me BUT GOD. HE was the ONE who was in control. So even if some days I questioned HIS goodness, I still would go back to HIS word and HIS promises. They were all I had.I would cry out for help.I would worship.I would daily wrestle with HIS SOVEREIGNTY.I knew that HE was either allowing it or causing it. I knew that either way, HE was still good.
It wasn't as if I hadn't been in this position before. But this time, HE had clearly warned me ahead of time. And I was so grateful. How could I be mad at GOD. HE told me it was coming, the fire and water were coming.
But in the midst of it all, something strange was happening to me...there were moments where I would have the ability to see the purpose in each struggle. I began to learn how to walk by faith and not by sight. And to appreciate my feelings but not to depend on them. I was learning how to lean hard into the promises of GOD when the world around me was telling me that HE was not trustworthy. I saw how to put no confidence in flesh but to keep my confidence squarely in the LORD JESUS.
In it, I was seeing GOD's CHARCTER and even seeing how HE was changing my character. It took a few weeks, but today I am beginning to finally understand what was happening.I had been longing for fruit in my life.
I had been working hard with hope4Durand (a nonforprofit my friend helped start). We had helped a few people but I still felt that there was no real,everlasting fruit.Yet there seemed to be an abundance of trials and tribulations.
Well, this morning things changed...
I prayed and asked GOD what HE would like me to read and I heard James 5. So I read it. And there, in the pages of HIS word, in black and white, staring me right in the face, was the answer.
Verse 11 says, to endure suffering was a blessing. A blessing? What? What a minute! Ahh, I remember...
My daughter Steph had early in the week reminded me of when we first got saved. I would always tell them what a privilege it was to suffer for CHRIST's sake. But now, it seemed that we would just ask HIM how fast could HE deliver us from the suffering. Back then, I could see when I was suffering for JESUS, now it seemed that I was just suffering because of my own failure and sin.
But in James 5:10 , it combines suffering with patience. Patience? Wow, something I am not good at, not at all. I see, I was going to have to learn patience in the suffering. The suffering that GOD says is a blessing. Okay, okay, I'm starting to understand. But wait, there's more!
In verse 7, it also talks about the farmer waiting for the precious produce or FRUIT as we like to call it. But the farmer had to wait for the early and later rains to get his fruit. Rain? There it is, wait for the water. Wait a minute, the farmer wants the water...
Oh and look, vs 18 says, "Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. What?! Before the fruit must come rain?! The farmer wants the rain because he wants the fruit! Wait what! Rain produces fruit! Rain produces fruit!!!
But before the rain must come prayer. Prayer! If we want fruit, we've got to pray! Pray for what...rain! He prays for rain in verse 18. So it is prayer, rain, and then fruit!
And with that prayer for rain comes a need to prepare the ground.
Do you know how a farmer sometimes prepares ground? He will set his field on fire before he tills it for planting. The fire is going to burn away anything that might prevent the new seeds from growing. Growing? Growing what? Fruit!
***All scripture references are taken from the New American Standard version of the Bible
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