Tumultuous Fire

Christian songwriting legend Rich Mullins captured the ironic dichotomy of God’s tender yet firm love in his song, The Love of God.  The first stanza goes like this:

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
I cannot find in my own
And He keeps His fire burning
To melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning
Keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God

Mullins’ song is the inspiration behind the following poem I wrote on July 15, 2014, after reading and reflecting on Psalm 50.  A careful look at this psalm reveals the painful yet necessary refining God performs in the hearts of people like me who are prone to spiritual hypocrisy–giving lip service to God while dishonoring Him with an idolatrous, cruel, and self-serving lifestyle.

It doesn’t make sense–how can love be likened to fire with “reckless raging fury“?  But that’s exactly what God’s love is like.  He will not sit idle when people who claim to be Christians live like pagans.  He will be proactive in discipline.  He does this for two reasons…first because He is jealous for His name and will not let it be dragged in the mud, and second because He knows the well-being of our eternal soul is more valuable than the well-being of our temporal flesh.  

God’s discipline may be uncomfortable and may even be harsh, but it is also singularly effective in accomplishing His goal of refining us.  I have a burn pit, and it makes perfect sense that the easiest way to get rid of dead, unwanted branches is to burn them.  God’s trials are His way of burning the dead, unwanted vices in our character.  He tests our faith to produce in us endurance, contentment, and maturity (James 1:2-4).  Such qualities are invaluable and fulfilling…and only discovered through God’s trials.  

This is the message I found in 2014 when reading Psalm 50:3.  It hit me at a time when my heart was in a particularly dark and selfish place.  So without further ado, here is “Tumultuous Fire”, my reflection on Psalm 50:3…

 


A Reflection on Psalm 50:3 (NASB) —

 

Rock-hardened is my heart, O Lord

Opposed to Your Great Will

Ungrateful and uncaring

In pursuit of evil thrill

 

This rebellious core is poisonous

Infecting body, soul, and mind

A more corrupt and sinister heart

The world will never find

 

O melt this hell-bent center

With Your tumultuous fire

Then I can love as only You do

And be pure in my desire

 

How can raging fire be called “love”?

That makes no sense at all

We don’t understand the ways you choose

To make our proud hearts fall

 

But the charred remains are purified

Refined with white-hot flame

No wonder Your people asked for it

They asked for you by Name

 

So burn the core of my soul

Expose its darkness like the sun

Let me embrace Your plan for me

And rest in what You’ve done

 

 

–G. Schillinger, 7/15/14

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