In 2014 I watched my milk barn burn dang near to the ground. It was one of the most helpless feelings in the world. When I saw the many firefighters roll in I felt a little relief. I also felt a lot of fear. I knew most of those guys. Watching people do their job when it also means putting their lives at risk is not calming. Thankfully nobody had to run into a burning building because there wasn't anyone nor any cows in it. But I knew that if there was a chance of anyone being in there those guys would have ran into the fire to save them. The idea of that is terrifying.
I've watched people run into burning buildings. I've watched them fight a fire until they collapse. I've seen the aftermath from a day of fighting in the heat of a fire and smoke inhalation that is inevitable. I've seen it weaken big strong men to the point of exhaustion that it's hard to come out of. Fire is scary. It is dangerous. It takes someone brave to run into a hell they may not come out of.
Some of us are walking around burning up in a fire. We are burning in our past. We are burning in our sin and shame. We are burning in choices we've made. We are singed from years of rebellion and pain. And we call it surviving. The reality is that we aren't surviving when we are burning in those things. We are not thriving. We are melting on a road to hell trying to ignore the pain.
I know many firefighters that will walk into flames. They go in suited up in the best gear they have. They walk in protected. They have masks to help filter smoke. They shield themselves because we are human. But I know another firefighter that doesn't need any gear. I know a savior that is willing to march into the fire with you and put the flames down from the inside out. I know a Savior that changes us from victim of sin to a eternal survivor.
Survivors of fires don't come out exactly the same as they were before their fire. They change. They become something different. Depending on their outlook, they either become forever a victim or forever a survivor. It is all about what they are willing to let go of, believe in, and what they are willing to strive for.
The Ultimate Firefighter, my Savior, is constantly putting out flames that I create. And every time I am different, new. I am never perfect. I never seem to drop the matches that I use to start fires, but my Savior is patient with me. He helps me drop one match at a time. He will be with me and never leave me.
In Daniel 3 there is a great story. King Nebuchadnezzar issues an order for everyone to worship a golden image when they hear a horn. These 3 guys were not the "go with the flow" kind. They refused to bow to anyone other than God. When the people brought this to the King he had no choice but to punish the 3. He had them thrown in to a fire furnace so hot that it killed the men who tossed them in. When they looked through the furnace window there were not 3, but 4 men in there. Shadrach, Mesahch, and Abed-Nego were called out of the furnace. They came out of the fire without a burn or singed hair. They told them that God, their one and only King, the Ultimate Firefighter, saved them from the flames. Nebuchadnezzar didn't have a choice but to believe. His new decree said that nobody should speak against the God of the 3 men from the fire; that no other God can deliver like that.
We all have our own kind of flames, our own demons. We all constantly fight our very own fires. We fight sin and hate. We fight tooth and nail. But if we would stop fighting, and start calling on God to put out our flames we would be a lot better off. We will still be a sort of victim of our own sins and choices, but we will also be a survivor because God not only puts out our fires, he makes us survivors. He changes us. And change is a good thing.
I've been listening to this album by Zach Williams for a week or so. Most of these songs speak to me, but this morning, listening to "Survivor" God laid it on my heart to share these words with you. Maybe they won't touch your heart, but hopefully someone out there will realize their pain is from their very own fire. They will look down and see the matches they continually light and allow God to help them put out their fire and become a survivor.