A good friend, Andy Scheer, put up this pic with the tag, “In another hour, the individual dried split peas will have disappeared, leaving in their wake a wonderful, creamy soup.” Not only did it make me begin to salivate, that post of Andy’s gives a nice extended metaphor for following Jesus. Heat. Heat transformed dried or raw foods into a delectable soup.
Back in high chemistry with John Gunning, I discovered that heat changes stuff. Let’s look at three ways it does that spiritually.
First, ever try to eat a dried split pea? Please don’t. But add seasonings, ham, carrots, and heat with some time, and it becomes something more than any ingredient alone. So, add the heat that trouble brings and we gain strength when joined with another fellow Christian and God, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Trouble forces us to look beyond our individual strength to join with others and God.
Second, heat strengthens. According to MetLab, when we temper steel with heat, we increase its hardness, strength, and toughness. The fragile brittleness gives way to a more useful material. The heat of trials has a similar spiritual effect, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” James 1:2-4). Want to be able to handle any situation? Then embrace the heat of trials.
Third, I love the heat of a campfire at night, but heat can not only warm us, but motivate us, “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). The Spirit can inflame us to grow in motivation, to increase our passion, to sharpen our focus on working for God. He desires red hot followers, not smoldering embers that produce more smoke than heat.
Yes, followers face heat and trials from our culture, and sometimes the government. But rather than complain, let’s embrace the heat and use it as a change agent to grow more connected. More strong. More motivated. When tested by fire, let’s get that A+.
Kick Starting the Application
How do you typically respond when you feel the heat of hard times? Do you get more connected, strong, and motivated, or less? Why do you go in the direction you do? How can you increase your positive response to the heat of trials?