Let the Fire Burn
“And he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.” Exodus 3:2
Rarely do I lose a night of sleep due to an overactive mind, but there have been several occasions in my life and ministry when I’ve tossed and turned for hours; wrestling with some situation or decision. When this happens, I normally just get up — there’s no use laying there or disturbing my wife with my constant body flopping! While I’m not in need of an exorbitant amount of sleep, a man does have his limits, and I need a handful of hours to be effective throughout the day. It looks like the mind won last night — I’ve been awake for hours thinking on things that are beyond my control, and now I'm reaping the harvest of a restless night.
Sometimes we know what it is like to be a bush that burns but is not consumed. When Moses saw the burning bush, he watched the fire burn, heard the crackle of the flames, smelled the smoke, but was amazed that there was only light and heat in the absence of destruction. There was a divine barrier against what could have and should have happened to the bush. God ordained it to burn, but not to smolder in defeat. The burning bush was a symbol; it indicated that God was at work in an unprecedented way.
It is my belief that God will allow you and me to be like that bush from time to time. He will send circumstances into our lives and ministries which will turn the heat up and, hopefully, manifest light from our lives. As we face undesirable conditions, God will forbid us from being consumed. He will not permit us to burn up, even though we have been put into the hot fire. We may lose sleep; we might forfeit of our sense of calm; we may lose some of the tangibles in life and go through a frightening and growing awareness of all that we are not. In essence, we will inch perilously close to the proverbial end of our rope and feel like we are grasping in the dark for something to hold on to. But do not lose hope — when these moments occur, it is then that our flailing hand will find itself grasped by the hand of perfect omnipotence and absolute love.
Paul told the Corinthians that they should not lose heart when there is something going on with them that feels like death (II Corinthians 4:16). He described it as the perishing of the outer man, and had to remind them that this is always accompanied by the renewing of the inner man. Jesus taught the same thing in John 12:24 when he stated, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” It is in this dying that God produces the manifestation of fruit that is linked to the second birth. All that our inner nature desires can only come as a result of the old nature dying.
The bush, indeed, must burn if there is going to be a manifesting of light. Many of us are learning that the dying and burning is not as desirable as the light and the fruit and this is why we have to examine ourselves to determine if we really want the process to continue. Is the pain worth it? Do we esteem the troubled heart valuable enough to cooperate with until it leads to the ordained end? Will we extinguish the flame that burns us and resurrect the old man who seems less demanding to live with?
Well, if I belonged to myself, then the answer would be quite easy: pour water on the flame, pamper the branches, and protect the bush! But I don’t belong to me anymore, and you don’t belong to you. As we recognize that the flames and the fruit are the things that evidence the glory of God in us, to us and around us, the question of whether or not we proceed is already answered. The bush must continue to burn and the dying of the outer man must not be interrupted. The resulting light will be bright and the final fruit will be sweet. May we all remember that this is the path and process appointed for the servants of God.
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” I Peter 1:7