Among the Embers
This year has been an incredibly challenging year in so many ways. As a church we have often been pulled out of the four walls and had to do church at home or online. As people we have been isolated from those we love and do life with and been left in many ways to stand on our own. This doesn’t mean however that we are alone. The enemy wants to weaken the church during this time by isolating us and cutting off person to person contact and encouragement. We could look at this with a downtrodden heart and allow sadness to envelop us or we can ask God what His plans are during this time.
For many believers across the world these are not new challenges as they are persecuted and cut off from being together by regimes and other challenges. So how do they persist? They stay in His presence. They seek Him with a need that most of us in the U.S. haven’t experienced. We are living in a blessed nation, yes even with all that has happened in 2020. So even in times of adversity the church can flourish. In truth most times it is because of that adversity that it flourishes.
Sadly our human nature is to get comfortable, to settle into a “norm”. This often leads us to the path of least resistance. The truth is God never said we would have a smooth journey. My pastor often tells about a time when he was particularly challenged and was crying out to God about all that was happening and how God’s response was “I didn’t call you to a playground I called you to a battlefield.”
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.””
John 16:33 NKJV
The Bible tells us that we will have trouble. As believers we are not promised a playground but we are promised that the King of Kings will be with us, give us peace and that we will have victory. However I think often times we believe that means it will be easy. God never promised that; following Jesus takes effort and commitment. Salvation is a free gift, all we need to do is receive it. However receiving Him as Lord, choosing to serve and follow Him means we have to stay in His presence.
I recently heard a story about a man who had been a part of a local church for years and slowly he stopped coming to services. The pastor became concerned and felt God prompting him to go visit. When he arrived at the man’s home and was allowed in he saw that the man had been sitting near and enjoying a fire that burned in the fireplace. The pastor walked over to the fire and sat down saying nothing. The man was edgy waiting for the pastor to bring up his lack of attendance but as time passed the pastor said nothing. A few more minutes went by and the pastor reached over and removed a single ember from the blazing fire and set it apart from the fire. The man still wondering when the lecture was going to start watched with curiosity. Slowly the fire in the ember began to fade and die out. The pastor than took the tongs and placed the ember back in the fire. He then stood, put on his coat and headed for the door. The man watched as the ember began to fire back up drawing from the embers surrounding it. He rose and walked to the door and said “thank you for stopping Pastor. I will see Sunday.” The Pastor smiled and headed out into the night.
There is a reason the enemy has been trying to use things like the pandemic and racial and political unrest and dissension. If he can cut off the fuel we get from each other and keep us from pressing into God’s presence we will lose our flame. Our strength will be snuffed out. We must remain among the embers and not allow circumstances to choke off the source of abundant blessing and life that Jesus purchased at the cross.