Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fires and Floods

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you; when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned….

Isaiah 43:2

Waiting for my plane at Chicago's O'Hare Airport I became aware of enthusiastic singing coming from the television. Turning around I watched the CNN reporter, standing in front of a backdrop of singing, clapping, joyous Haitians. The by-line at the bottom of the screen was "Haitians find their faith gives them strength." It seemed impossibly absurd that with the earthquake's staggering death toll rising they could sing. They believed and were practicing the presence of God even as they breathed the death surrounding them.

Experience tells us that life is painful. We didn’t learn to walk without falling down or ride a bike without skinned knees. Why should it be any different growing up spiritually? Eugene Peterson says that, "growing up and growing up in Christ are the same thing."

When I first heard these words twenty-five years ago I left the room completely confused. How could they possibly be the same? But with each passing year my growing up continues. And like those who have gone before me, along the way have come the "flood" and "fire" challenges that have strengthened body, soul, mind and heart.

When we open ourselves to God's presence within each "fire" or "flood" the possibility of becoming more like Jesus increases. The singing Haitians understood that "fires" were inevitable, and that God's presence was with those whose lives were lost as well as with the living. They had not been consumed.

Jesus, you have power over water and fire!
I accept the floods and the fires
that will ultimately keep me
growing up in You.

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