“Don’t be afraid of the flames or the furnace, because it is in the midst of the fire that you will be changed. It is in the fire that you will experience the presence of God.”
These words written by Bianca Olthoff in her book debut titled Play With Fire resonated with me. Bianca’s story and mine share a few overlapping pieces despite living drastically different lives and as I finished this book, I couldn’t help but agree. Yes, we should all play with fire.
While my youth involved a lot of nights tossing items into a fire to see what happened as we camped at Lake Allatoona with friends, this isn’t the kind of playing with fire we’re talking about. It’s the kind of fire that is your life. The fire that God uses to shape us, just as a glass blower uses the fire to create works of art.
I feel like I’m on the other side of a fire that greatly reshaped my life, but I know there will be more. Big ones and small ones. Fires that will seem to destroy it all and others that are quick to be extinguished. I know Smokey The Bear says that only I can prevent forest fires, and I wish that were true in my own life. If we could just prevent the bad and horrible from ever happening, maybe we’d be better. The truth is that the terrible horrible things will happen and they will change them. Embrace the fire and find what God wants from you.
We can’t be like smokey the bear and prevent the fires, but we can embrace them for all that they are. So often we wonder where God is in all of this when it seems like we’re in a firestorm that can’t be contained. When our lives don’t look as happy and wonderful as those around us, we begin to doubt. But like Bianca says “…it’s called the promised land, not the perfect land.” She is so right. The Israelites weren’t given a perfect life and neither were we. We are going to have trials and tribulations, however, once our fires begin to settle and become extinguished, only then can beauty evolve from the ashes.
If you find yourself wondering, why me? or why this? that I can’t recommend this book enough to you. Go learn to play with fire. Who knows, you may even get a s’more or two.