Fire. It’s one of those things that every little boy is mesmerized with. I say that, knowing that even now I could sit and stare into a camp fire for hours and always be amazed at it. There’s something about it – how gracefully it leaps about, how it casts constantly moving shadows about it, how the heat radiates from it…
And yet, there are some parts of a fire that we can’t even see. Beyond the parts of this flame that we see moving, there are parts of it that are invisible to the naked eye. Our eyes just weren’t designed to be able to see every part of a flame. But we can see the effects of the flame.
For a moment, I want you to think of God this way. There are aspects of Him that are obvious, and that the Bible deliberately points us to. In Romans 1, Paul says that “…since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…” That means that all of creation points to God.
I can look at a green leaf and know that it takes in light and converts it to food, and I’m reminded of how God can take the horrible, destructive things that happen in our lives and make them turn out for our good (Romans 8:28).
I can gaze toward the sky at daybreak and watch as the first beams of light break forth and spill brilliant reds and oranges onto the waking clouds, and I am reminded that, just as the sun rises every day, I can know for certain that Jesus is with me every day (Psalm 3:5, Matt. 28:20).
And then I can take a further step back and see how the Earth circles the Sun at a constant speed, rotating at a constant velocity, with the sun always shining its light somewhere on the earth. And so in a sense, since the creation of the universe there has been one continuous rising and setting of the sun on the earth. And I’m reminded of the steadfast love of the Lord who never changes.
Or how about this. I can look at a seed. I can see how it must first fall to the earth in death and be buried, and only then can new life spring forth from it. And so I am reminded of how our Savior had to die our death for us first so that He could raise us up with Himself in new life.
All these examples are tangible ways in which we can see the various parts of the flame that is our amazing God.
But what about the parts of this Fire that we don’t see? What about those parts that really just don’t make sense to our finite minds? What about all the pain? The suffering? What about the child who’s innocence is stolen by sexual abuse? What about the sufferings of addiction? The pain of disease?
I’m not going to suggest that I can answer all these questions in a little blog post, but I do want to give some thoughts for you to ponder.
You cannot displace a consuming fire; if you try, you will fail and be consumed by it.
You see, when we question God, when we say things like, “how could you let this happen??” or “there’s no way a loving God would let something like this happen,” what we’re saying is, “I cannot see it, so there must not be Fire there.” What lies beneath our questioning and accusations is a lie that we whisper to our hearts – “if I were God, I would do things different.” And therein lies the heart of the matter. Therein lies the origin of it all. It is the same lie that Adam and Eve believed, and it is the same lie that led to the destruction of that perfect fellowship they had with their Creator.
And so, in our pride, we assume the position of the fire that we cannot see. Deuteronomy 4:24 and Hebrews 12:29 refer to God as “a consuming fire.” And doesn’t that make sense, really? He is a consuming fire because anything or anyone who attempts to take His place is subjected to the futility of it. You cannot displace a consuming fire; if you try, you will fail and be consumed by it.
But this is all meant to be both encouraging to us as well as an appeal. Be encouraged and find peace in seeing the Fire that is visible. Be on the lookout! Look around you and see how our Creator has set Himself on display for us to marvel at!
But then, look at those places where you don’t see the Fire. Look at those hidden places, and be reminded:
“For as high as the heavens are from the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
– Isaiah 55:9
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been His counselor?”
– Romans 11:34
There are places and things and purposes that God has hidden from our fallen eyes for a time. There are things and circumstances that our limited eyes simply cannot see in order to understand. But in your hunger for understanding, do not attempt to occupy that ill-perceived void – God will not allow it. The affects of this hidden Flame can only be seen over time.
And the fire that could not be seen with fallen eyes will be seen with eyes that have been made new and whole by the Savior – the pinnacle of grace and mercy and the glory of the Father.
But, believer, find peace in knowing this: It will be perceived, whether in this life, or the next. For there will come a morning when the darkness will not flee from mere flickers of light advancing over a silhouetted horizon. No, it will be overcome by a True Fire that will shine for all eternity. And on that day, all purpose will be known, and all reason will be understood. For “when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.” And the fire that could not be seen with fallen eyes will be seen with eyes that have been made new and whole by the Savior – the pinnacle of grace and mercy and the glory of the Father.