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Finding God in the Fire

by Melissa Schaser

Wide awake, I looked over at the clock: 3:05AM. I wondered when I would finally fall asleep. The worries and demands of my job, ministry, graduate school, and family life blurred through my mind on an endless cycle that I knew I had little ability to stop.

Something had to give.

Later that day, I poured myself a big cup of coffee,  then walked to campus to drop one of my classes, resign from an internship, and cut back on the hours at my job.

What felt like a life full of good had become overwhelming. On that sleepless night the Holy Spirit intervened – not with a quiet, gentle word, but with refining fire.

Throughout Scripture we find God associated with fire. Deuteronomy 4:24 describes God as “a consuming fire;” when Moses receives the Ten Commandments in Exodus 19, we read that “the Lord descended on Mount Sinai in fire.” Similarly, at Pentecost the apostles who gathered together experienced “what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them” (Acts 2:3). After the fire appeared, we learn that “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:4).

The Holy Spirit works through fire. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we may realize that the reason God uses fire is that each of us needs refining.

Life can get full so easily. The daily activities, both large and small, can keep us busy, and in the midst of our distraction, we can lose sight of who God calls us to be. It is in those moments of distraction that God often shows up in fire: refining and strengthening us, and burning away the excess.

Jean Calvin once called the Holy Spirit the fons vitae, the well of life. As we allow the Holy Spirit to burn in our lives, clearing away the clutter and mess, we often find ourselves left with something far simpler than what we had originally desired: at the center of our lives, the Holy Spirit offers us a deep well, one that offers living water and never runs dry.

I don’t know which season of life you are in: perhaps you find yourself in a time of trial and fear, maybe it’s one marked by busyness and exhaustion, or temptation, or boredom, or ambivalence. Wherever you find yourself today, the Holy Spirit can meet you. The encounter may be quiet and gentle, or it may be convicting and powerful; and through it all you will find yourself refined, strengthened, and centered on the One who created you.

Melissa Schaser joined Christ Presbyterian Church as Pastor of Congregational Care in 2016. She is passionate about caring for others, as well as empowering members of our congregation to care for others well. Prior to joining CPC, she was a hospital chaplain in Tennessee. She earned her M.Div from Vanderbilt University.