By Chelsia Checkal
The glowing embers seemed to reflect as brightly in my eyes as the flames had until the water bucket smothered them.
Beautiful, I thought, how the embers from the campfire that cooked our food and gave us warmth will now linger, ready to reignite if given the chance. As I stared into the darkness, there was something else that stung my teary eyes.
It was the smoke. What a wonder that smoke can be so powerful, awakening the senses and visible even in the darkness.
We mistakenly assume that once the flames have been put out, fire is no longer a threat. This belief has even been the root cause of some devastating fires. Buildings and forests have been set ablaze by someone who has underestimated the power of a single ember.
Many campfires later, I’ve come to see that the embers and the smoke are just as beautiful and powerful as the flames. Not only do they linger longer than meets the eye, but they have the power to reignite the fire at any moment.
This is also true of life with God.
Recently, I was reflecting on a season where I didn’t feel fiery in my faith. Jesus reminded me that not only do feelings lie to us, they blind us.
I turned to the story of Abraham, faithfully waiting on God to bless his barren wife, Sarah, with children. Many years passed as he held on to God’s promise in Genesis 15:5: “He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars–if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be’”(NIV).
It’s recorded that Abraham believed, but that doesn’t mean he walked out that belief perfectly. There was a struggle in the waiting. Abraham and Sarah wavered in their belief so much that Abraham slept with Sarah’s servant, Hagar in order to have a son (Gen. 16). They tried to control their dreams and fulfill God’s promise on their own. But the truth remains that only God can actually be God.
Our longings have a way of suffocating our faith and leading us straight into a pit of sin if we don’t open our hands to trust God with our dreams.
Hope emerges when we go on to read the very next verse, Genesis 15:6, where it is written that, “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”
An accolade like that is only possible because Abraham pressed on through the times that didn’t look so beautiful. When other couples were raising their families, Abraham and Sarah chose to submit, and re-submit, to God. They walked with him through their earthly desires to see the promise fulfilled. Their sin could not overpower God’s supreme plan because their hearts repented and they chose faith.
This is what faith looks like.
Our faith is not defined by the pomp and circumstance of our life. God does not need us to fabricate a faith life of miracles and wonders. He asks us to do the very same thing he asked of his first disciples (Matt. 16:24). His heart’s cry is for us, his daughters, to simply follow him.
Seasons that require more faith, that require us to press upward to Jesus, are just as beautiful to our Savior as the seasons where the flames of our faith burn bright and hot.
The Holy Spirit is a fire within us, and he never burns out. If you, like me, have experienced a season of less flame and more embers and smoke, remind yourself of the power that lies within those embers, waiting to be reignited.
Abraham and Sarah lived with embers and smoke until one day, flames burst forth with the birth of their promised child, Isaac, whose name means laughter. What a grace that God chose laughter to come after their season of faithfulness. This miracle, laid out in the book of Genesis (which means beginning), births hope for you and me that God plans miracles for our lives from the beginning that are followed with laughter.
Laughter will come after the waiting. This is a hope we can hold on to.
Chelsia Checkal is an unashamed dreamer living on grace. A recovering legalist erring on the side of love. A coffee indulger who’d delight in meeting you at a quaint cafe to talk real-life. A messy mom, wife, and free-spirited Jesus girl whose life sings a story of redemption, freedom and hope. Chelsia blogs at movewithhim.blogspot.com.