Refining Fire

In my house, random things often get carried to unexpected places my toddlers love to explore cabinets, shelves, drawers, and carry off whatever treasures they may find. I spend a fair amount of time picking up these abandoned treasures and putting them away but recently I found a treasure of my own: one of my notebooks I had left lying around with the intention of reading over someday. I flipped to a seemingly random page and started reading from it. Turns out, the date on the page was exactly two years ago to the day! Now my interest was really peaked! On this particular day, I had been encouraged to look up the meaning of my birth names and I’d written down what I had discovered. I remember being genuinely surprised that I didn’t know the entirety of what my name means, after all I had been to many gift shops over the years and as a kid the first thing you do in a gift shop is try to find your name on something! Many times the trinket has a brief description of what the meaning of your name is so I knew that my name means “honey bee”, I’d seen it on at least a dozen bookmarks, laminated cards, and signs. It never occurred to my younger self to look up my middle name, though, and if I had stumbled across it in one of the baby name books I skimmed over during my pregnancies I had completely skipped it. I was named Melissa Mackenzie. Melissa though it is a cute little meaning, a cute little honeybee, I must confess I never really felt like a “Melissa” and I didn’t like it much as a child but I’ve grown to appreciate it enough to pass it on to my own firstborn daughter as a middle name. Mackenzie is a name that has more slight variations to it, and I never thought to look up my middle name as a child, back before the internet was readily available at each moment. I can check 6 different name websites and see that the meaning can slightly differ… but the very first site I checked is the definition I hold to because it hit close to my heart that day, it felt like a piece of my life had been explained to me, or like who I am and who I always have been was revealed to me like a thing about myself that I had never been aware of but realized it had always been so. When I looked up the name Mackenzie, the results told me that it means “child of the wise King” and “born of fire”…. this definition first became known to me at a time where I had just given my life over to Jesus, and because of when I discovered it, wow… It just hit totally different than if I had always known it! Just like knowing that in the Bible names often had a meaning related to the persons past or their future showed me that even something we do not choose, our birth name, can have a significant impact on our lives (Thanks Mom and Dad!). When we choose our names for our own children and whether it is a name we thought sounded pretty or a name we liked because of its meaning I believe we have already been given our names. The Bible says we each have a book written about us and this book contains all our days before even ONE came to pass (Psalm 139:16). At the time my newly born again, or rededicated, or consecrated self (whatever you call it when You’re a grown woman but a baby Christian with plans to grow up) was definitely seeing a kingdom element to the name I had been given by my parents seemingly at random, that I had never seen before! To my delight these definitions for my names have reminded me of who I am in Christ! Someday I plan to share my testimony, but the brief version is to say that I had gone so far after my own way for so long a time that for a good while I didn’t have any faith left in Jesus being my savior, let alone anyone else’s. I don’t say that lightly, but it is the truth and it is important to acknowledge that no matter where you are in your walk, you are NEVER too far away to come back to Christ and to discover the truth of how completely and totally loved you are, how good God is, and how ready to save He is! When I opened my mouth and confessed out loud “Jesus, I can’t do it on my own, I am asking you to step in and lead me, transform me, I need you, I believe you are everything the Bible says you are and that you are my only way through… thank you for helping me through this.” My life changed that very moment. I physically felt the Holy Spirit rest on me, the atmosphere in the room changed, my inner environment changed, in that moment I had peace, I felt the love of God and I KNEW what was happening was undeniable and unexplainable any other way but Jesus is the real deal! What an awesome gift of grace it was to have been given that experience to completely restore my faith (even increasing and transforming my faith) when I needed Him most! But now, I find out that even my given name at birth was a confirmation of what I was learning by beginning to study the scriptures for myself: I am a child (a daughter) of THE WISE KING! His word even tells us that we are, in fact, created specifically for these days and times that we are living in and that He equips us with every thing we need to do the work He has called us to do! I considered the second definition for my name, “born of fire”, and thought about the hunger to know the Lord that had been placed on the inside of me. I was at a place in my life where my desire was to live life on fire for the Lord because the love that I had tasted was so much more than good enough, I wanted to let Him into every area of my life so I could be transformed by that love! I also thought about how being born of fire can signify having walked through fiery ordeals and been transformed by them. The Bible talks about the fire, the furnace, of burning away the cross, of refining the gold. I thought surely I had already gone through my fire and been reborn! My honey bee name seemed pretty fitting too because I am a total honey lover, and I probably have 3 or 4 jars of different local honeys in my pantry. Let me share the wisdom of the honey bee with you! Have you ever had a jar of honey crystallize in your pantry? How do you solve this problem? My preferred method is heating the jar of honey in boiling hot water til it softens. Holy Spirit had been speaking to me that day as I pondered honey and what it means to be born of fire… funny how two years later this has such a different meaning for me. This particular day, I see a different word being prophesied, of something being born of fire, a symbol for these challenging days that we all are moving toward! This past year has felt like a time where everything that can be tested is being tested, for sure! Over the last two years the Lord had been busy teaching me and pruning me and getting me ready for the fire and the boiling water through small tests and trials that strengthened my faith! I saw victories and answered prayers and tasted His goodness, just as I had believed and known that I would! But eventually as we grow from baby Christians and begin to mature in Christ, He begins to work more challenging things out of us- and it is often a process! Throughout this process we also have an enemy who is determined to stall our progress by any means necessary! That fire can get really hot, and as for boiling water? It doesn’t feel so good whenever you are sitting in it! These days and months have felt an awful lot like boiling water, and my heart has more than once felt exactly like crystallized honey, stuck in a place where I feel completely helpless and useless and not like myself at all but a hardened version of me. But the Lord reminded me of the day I first read in the psalms “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” I read that prayer, then prayed that prayer, and I meant every word of it …until I started to become aware of all the junk in me and realized I was currently sitting in boiling water! And It seemed to me like I was being left in here to just sit for a while! No matter how I cried out and broke down in tears and begged God to change me or change the situation or change something, or attempted to solve problems in my own strength, life still just felt hard. Really hard. On top of that, I was being repeatedly confronted by areas of weakness which I thought the worst of those days were long behind me or I didn’t even realize were in me in the first place! Outbursts of anger or bitterness, fear, complaining! Then, the enemy likes to go after us when we are weak, reminding me of every time I missed the mark, of every time I tried to keep my peace but failed to keep it through even one full day! Parenting and marriage are two great training grounds for testing peace and patience, especially in the middle of a global pandemic and a nation in political turmoil! Satan doesn’t want us to put things in perspective of growth. He doesn’t want you to see how 99 times out of a hundred you kept your cool with your two year old. He will replay for you in your mind the same chunk of mistakes over and over again, like a clump of sugar crystals floating around in an already half-warmed honey jar! But just like God’s love for us is eternal and incredibly patient, that honey hasn’t lost value because it is crystallized! Sometimes you heat the water again and put the jar back in! But, it helps if you have an understanding that all of this is for a reason, the honey doesn’t have to be thrown out just because its not ready to pour anymore… it can be restored! Putting it in the fire is a sign that it is getting ready to be poured again! Just like Psalm 66:10-12 says the Lord tests us and tries us as silver is tried yet He brings us out to a place of abundance! Aside effect of having gone through this process before is becoming familiar with the fact that it is not a one and done deal but that it needs to be done and will in fact occur from time to time, or perhaps many times in a season, especially a winter season. As children of God, we know that hard times will come but we also know that God works everything for the good of those who love Him! God is faithful to see you through this! His love never leaves us! Just remember if the devil has you focusing on the junky condition you are in, or on the hot water around you, I’d like to remind you of the fact that you are a beloved child of the wise king! You are born again, being reborn of fire, refined like silver and gold and led down the way that is everlasting! Just as Proverbs 25:4 reminds us “Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel.” Yes, this last year has been filled with challenges, but I pray that we are being made ready for what amazing things God has planned for us next! Have confidence in this: the fire can leave you better than before! God can use this! Just like with honey God can use you, and maybe this fiery season will be the reason someone else gets to taste and see that the Lord is good, as the Lord has made you perfectly ready to faithfully pour His goodness into someone else’s life.

PRAYER
God use me and show me what is being made new through this fire I am in, or that I am getting ready to walk through. Help me to know that just like crystallized honey you are not done with me yet! I am thankful that you are not threw with me and you do not throw me out when I get stuck in thoughts of doubt, confusion, or even unbelief. I pray I am not afraid of the fires of life as I know you are making something new in me! Lead me in this journey and draw near to me as I draw near to you. May this newly reformed honey be a sweet testimony you will be able to use to those around me.
Thank you Father,
Amen!

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