“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
When you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
This Sunday, Rainbow congregant Amy Kliewer will reflect on turning points in the wilderness—times when she walked through metaphorical fires, and felt a little charred as a result.
Visiting with Amy has led me to reflect on fires that threaten to consume us—whether those fires be related to illness, job loss, conflict, trauma, oppression, violence, or all of the above. It is said in Romans chapter 8 “that all things work together for good for those who love God,” and that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. But for those experiencing or recovering from consuming flames, for those drowning in the rivers, gasping for breath, these promises can sometimes sound too good to be true. And there is nothing that burns like a broken promise.
Sure, I hear stories of those who walk through these so called fires of life, and come out more resilient and stronger than ever. I’ve seen people rise from the ashes of grief and pain, shining with an unbelievable light. But that doesn’t mean they don’t carry scars. None of us are without scars.
So I’ll end this post by inviting us all to reflect on some of these questions, questions that I believe reside in the story of Moses and the Burning Bush (Exodus chapter 3).
- What are your significant life turning points—times when you sensed the presence or absence of God in new or more profound ways?
- Are there moments or seasons when you have felt the metaphorical fires of life, but weren’t consumed? What helped you through those moments/seasons?
- What threatens to consume or overwhelm you today?
And more broadly:
- How are we collectively turning with God toward those who are being consumed by forces of hatred, greed, racism, sexism, and oppression of all kinds?
- What might God be calling us to turn away from in order to join in the work of seeking greater justice and compassion?