Monday, April 27, 2009

Burned Up

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So much for my Saturday night treat!

It looked like a science experiment gone horribly wrong. An attempt at recreating volcanic lava in the microwave, or maybe brewing up some sort of sludge for the next great “wonder fuel.”

It sure didn’t look like the same lovely chocolate fondue that I had intended to re-warm. Noxious smoke poured out of it, even long after I’d taken it out of the microwave and put it next to a hastily-opened window.

My husband and kids were already upstairs for the night, having a little father-son time before bed. They knew I had already put a roast in the crock pot for Sunday afternoon dinner, and they took turns debating the source of the horrible smell wafting from the kitchen. Middle Son came closest when he said, “It smells like a chocolate roast is burning!”

Smoke continued to billow, so I decided to stir the fondue to release some of the heat. That helped, and the smoke finally quit. Then, in a moment of genius that could only have been born in a sleep-deprived mind, I decided to put an ice cube in it.

Hissing, smoking, bubbling, popping, and spitting ensued (from the mug of fondue, not from me). Stirring helped things calm down again, so I put more ice in. Why should the fun end?

Really, it was rather fascinating to watch, but even so, it’s not an event I would like to re-create. The stench remains seared in my memory, and it stubbornly defies attempts to eradicate it from the microwave.

The micro’s “Sensor reheat” function isn’t supposed to turn fondue into magma, but things don’t always work out the way they’re supposed to.

Aside from being an amusing change of pace, what’s this story doing in a “God-centered blog?”

It’s here because God sometimes turns up the heat on us. But unlike my microwave, He never turns the heat up higher than we can survive…by his grace.

People often say things like, “God gave you this trial because He knew you were strong enough for it,” but I defy you to find that concept in Scripture. He promises he won’t give us temptations above what we ourselves are able to bear, but he doesn’t say that about trials. And the Psalms are full of the prayers of people who are utterly overwhelmed by their hardships.

Been there? I have.

God says He refines us like silver or gold is refined…in a super-hot furnace (Jer. 9:7, Isa. 48:10). I don’t know about you, but I’m not cut out for furnaces. I can’t handle them.

I know, because I’ve been in them. And I didn’t do too well. Think “burnt fondue.” I may have gone in sweet (that’s debatable), but I came out smoking and spitting and bubbling; charred into oblivion and smelling awful.

Just the way God wanted me.

You see, He didn’t promise that He would only give me what I can handle. But that’s okay, because He won’t give me more than He can handle for me. I can be abased, I can be hungry, I can suffer need, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Php. 4:12-13). Don’t talk to me about my strength, unless you spell it with a capital “S.” Jesus Christ is my Strength (Ps. 118:14).

He also promised never to leave me or forsake me (Heb. 13:5), and to make sure I’m not destroyed by the trials of my life (Isa. 43:2). And He promised to carry me (Isa. 46:4).

What’s more, he promised to bring me out of the trials as something more precious than pure gold (1Pet. 1:6-7)!

Beth Moore puts it so beautifully when she says:

The burning bush was unusual because the bush was not consumed. Heb. 12:29 says our God is a consuming fire. God’s is the only fire that can consume an object without eventually destroying it.

Anger destroys. Rage destroys. Lust destroys.

God’s fire isn’t destructive. He doesn’t feed off of us. He is the I Am, the self-existent One. He invites us to feed off of Him. No other fiery passion in our souls will ever guard us from getting burned.

Could it be that the fire we feel is not really the fire of our trials, but the fire of His Holiness?

If you are a child of God, even the fire is for you, not against you. It is His fire, or else one allowed by Him. And He specializes in fixing ruined people, like the charred messes that you and I see in our mirrors.

Never mind the “burnt fondue smell” coming off of me sometimes! The dross is being burned away, so that only what is pure may remain.

Unfortunately, there’s enough dross left to last a lifetime. The pure gold won’t emerge until Heaven. But by the grace of God, I won’t be burned up…just burned clean.


The Beth Moore quote is from “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things” (partially paraphrased).

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Ed said...

Hi Betsy: The fondue story was a real attention getter.

Linda said...

A great example of the difficult work God has to do in my life also.
Thanks for all the scriptures of encouragement.

conarnold said...

This is a great post, Betsy, and something we all can relate to. I like the example of the fondue!

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

Chocolate roast? Your story was hilarious -well at least the way you told it was hilarious. I'm sure it didn't seem terribly funny at the time. You made some excellent points about how God uses trials in our lives. What a blessing to read this today!

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