The Fire Works
The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. Families and friends gather together to eat hot dogs and yell at each other; it’s the American dream- celebrating America’s birthday. Though the tenacity has mellowed out, starting from childhood, I have always been a patriotic person. In elementary school, I was a tiny thing with pigtails wiry as my attitude- holding mock elections and wearing Old Navy flag shirts at will. In middle school, my momma took me to a rally to see George W. Bush in person and I cried. She also took me to Washington D.C for the first time and I cried some more.
One summer I was volunteering at a camp over the week of the fourth. They weren’t supposed to, but someone defied the odds and stealthily smuggled fireworks onto the sacred campgrounds. It was a sight to behold. We all ooohed and ahhed and felt really sorry for the guy who would be getting in trouble for the act. I’m not sure what happened to him, but I’m really glad he did it. It brought freedom right to the church house in a dramatic, new way. I have, on many occasions tasted the sweetness of feeling that summer-time type of free. That night, I felt it again as my friends and I felt free as our country, dancing in the grass, decked out in red- white and blue. That’s what the fireworks did for us that night- made us feel alive.
As I’m writing this, anticipating the holiday, I kept thinking about “fireworks.” I don’t know if my brain just likes to hit pause when pronouncing compound words or if the Lord Himself was trying to teach me something. As I repeated the word, it kept coming out as fire…works.
Fire usually serves a purpose. It is good when it is contained, but when it is wild, it destroys. When a fire is intentional, it purges, it gets rid of things that do not belong; it’s almost cleansing. Within the right bounds, fire works the way it is supposed to.
Fire has a lot of outcomes. It consumes, it warms, it illuminates, eliminates and sometimes it even teaches.
The story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal who trusted their gods is just one fire-filled account we can learn from.
As they were bickering about who was the One, True God, Elijah put them to the test. Each side built altars and laid sacrifices on them. Elijah proclaimed that the god who answered by fire was the real God.
And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” 1 Kings 18:24
The prophets of Baal prayed and cried and cut themselves but nothing happened; their altar remained untouched. However, Elijah prayed and immediately the fire fell. Faith under fire grows a lot differently than faith that is surface level. Elijah put his faith in God and He showed up in the fire. The three Hebrew boys left the flames that should have consumed them without even the scent following them. Fire refines things, even faith.
It is dangerous when it is out of control, but we can learn a lot from the element of fire. The Holy Ghost is even closely linked to it.
“And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.” Acts 2:3
Though the context looks quite different through our twenty-first-century lenses, that holy fire works the same as it did in the days on Elijah, the book of Acts, and scattered throughout the scriptures. He is the same God. He has the same power and He is still in the fire falling, answering business. May we never forget the power of our all-consuming God. No matter what situation you find yourself in, remember the fire works if you believe it and allow it to refine you, to teach you and to reveal things in you.
Rachel Skirvin is a lover of travel, nachos and the gospel. She is a graduate of Urshan College and will most likely always call it Gateway. She just recently married her best friend and together they are serving at the Pentecostals of Cooper City in South Florida.