The Fires of Life that Bring Fruitfulness
By Gary Amirault (with an article excerpt from Francis Frangipane)
I was watching an interesting television show on the Discovery channel about a part of the Cape of South Africa that produces the largest variety of flowers for its size than any other place on earth. Surprisingly, this place does not contain good topsoil nor does it get rain during the summer months. The vegetation is watered by a thick mist cloud that comes off the ocean at NIGHT. It was beautiful to watch this blanket of fog creep over the region in time laps photography.
Besides bad soil and little rainfall, this region is very windy and is often scorched from severe fires. Yet within a few short months AFTER these fires, that this region quickly becomes most glorious as it brings forth flowers whose seeds have been lying dormant sometimes for up to 20 or thirty years. In addition, some living plants in this region do not bring forth their seeds UNTIL they are subjected to extra-ordinarily high temperatures.
The very next morning after watching this production, I received the following email message from Francis Frangipane. Coincidence? Not hardly.
Thank you, heavenly Father for orchestrating the timing of seemingly insignificant things like a television show and an email to let me know you are very active in all aspects of my life. Thank You for giving me eyes to see this. So often we lose sight of the fact that you are intricately involved in all aspects of our daily lives.
Oh, if we only had eyes to see how marvelously and gloriously You are molding us even when the fires of life are upon us, nay, ESPECIALLY when the fires of life are upon us. Our fears and the instinct for self-preservation so often hides Your Presence right in the midst of storm. Help us to acknowledge, trust and stay focused on you in all the circumstances in our lives. You bring forth that which is hidden from our eyes. Let us truly know and understand that all Your intentions and purposes in our lives are good and loving even when destruction comes upon us. Oh, Father, You surround Yourself with darkness. Give us eyes to penetrate that covering to see You as You truly are. Only then will we know who we are in You. Give us eyes that can pierce through our ignorance and unbelief that we might see You in all Your glory every moment of our lives -- even in the valleys and the furnace of affliction.
Moses, the law-giver, was only allowed to see your backside. But you have not called us to follow Moses, you have drawn us to be under and in Jesus, Your Chosen One. Heavenly Father, let us see You face-to-face that we might kiss Life and live Life more abundantly — that we might become more fruitful. Blanket us with Your heavenly Dew in the night season and consume us in Your passionate fiery love by day. And in due time, we will come forth as a luscious fruitful garden. Amen
THE VALLEY OF FRUITFULNESS By Francis Frangipane
The battles we face are often intense times of weakness, distress, and confusion. If the events of our lives were charted upon a graph, these would be the lowest points. Yet, God is no less with us during difficulties than at other times. In fact, these valleys are often as much the plan of God as our mountaintop experiences.
There is a story in the Bible which speaks plainly to this truth. Israel had recently defeated the Arameans in a mountain battle. In 1 Kings, chapter 20, we read
Then the prophet came near to the king of Israel, and said to him, "Go, strengthen yourself and observe and see what you have to do; for at the turn of the year the king of Aram will come up against you."
Now the servants of the king of Aram said to him, "Their gods are gods of the mountains, therefore they were stronger than we; but rather let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they." 1 Kings 20:22 23
The enemy said that the God of Israel was a god of the mountains, but if they fought the Jews in the valleys they would defeat them.
We read in verse 28: Then a man of God came near and spoke to the king of Israel and said, "Thus says the Lord, 'Because the Arameans have said, "The Lord is a god of the mountains, but He is not a god of the valleys"; therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.' " 1 Kings 20:28
No matter what the enemy tries to tell you, Christ is God of the mountains and God of the valleys. He has not stopped being God because you happen to be in a valley. He is the God of glory, as seen in His power and miracles. And in the valleys, He reveals Himself as faithful, loyally committed to us in our difficulties and distresses. In all things and through all things, He is our God.
When we are on the "mountaintops" of our Christian experience, we can see our future clearly. We have perspective and confidence. However, when we are in one of life's valleys, our vision is limited and our future seems hidden. Yet, valleys are also the most fertile places on earth. Valleys produce fruitfulness. You can expect there to be a harvest of virtue when God dwells with you in the valleys.
The Highway to Zion
"How blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee; in whose heart are the highways to Zion! Passing through the valley of Baca, they make it a spring" (Ps. 84:5 6). Baca means "weeping." Each of us has times of weeping when our hearts and hopes seem crushed. However, because God has placed in our hearts "highways to Zion," we pass through valleys; we do not live in them.
"Passing through the valley of Baca . . ." Once we are on the other side of weeping, our Redeemer makes it "a spring." The very things which overwhelmed us will, in time, refresh us with new life. Whether we are experiencing the height of success and power or are in a valley of weakness and despair, the Lord is our God continually!
Has the enemy isolated you, causing you to doubt God's love? Do not forget, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Even the hairs on your head are numbered. He cares. It is His love for us that redeems our hardships, not only bringing good out of what was meant for evil but training us to also deliver others.
How did Jesus prepare to do wonderful works? Part of His training involved suffering. Christ was a man of sorrows; He was One who was acquainted with grief. Yet, His suffering was the Father's means of acquainting Him with the actual feelings of mankind's need and pain. Because He suffered what we suffer, He is able to serve as a faithful high priest. If we yield to God's plan for Christ to be formed in us, God will take our sorrows and use them to train us to feel what others feel; we will be anointed to deliver others.
Consider Joseph. He was the second youngest of Jacob's sons and his father's favorite. His walk with God began with dreams and visions. Joseph's life is a pattern for many who have had a genuine call from God. Our walk with God may also have begun with a "travel brochure" of dreams and visions: God gives us a picture of where we hope to arrive. What we do not see is how His promises will come to pass in our lives.
Fulfilling His external plan is secondary to what we become to God in the process. The sooner we attain virtue that remains consistent during testing, the sooner we attain God's other promises.
Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and delivered up by them to die. He was unjustly accused when Potiphar's wife tried to seduce him. He was imprisoned and forgotten by all except God, who was patiently watching and measuring Joseph's reactions to difficulty.
Rich or poor, blessed or smitten, Joseph was serving God. He was being tested, but he continued to pass his tests. Joseph was on trial before men, but he was found innocent before God.
Finally, at the right moment, the Lord suddenly connected all the loose ends of Joseph's life. Everything that Joseph went through would have seemed cruel and unfair, except that the Lord was shaping a man for His purpose. God uses everything we go through for future purposes that He alone sees. We do not see His ultimate plan while we are in the valley; we must remember the vision, keeping faith in what God has promised.
Just as He allowed Joseph to go through many trials, so He allows us to go through great conflicts as well. For He knows that our lives yes, what we have become through His grace will help others find the stronghold of God in their lives.
"And Joseph named the first-born Manasseh, 'For,' he said, 'God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father's household' " (Gen. 41:51). God caused Joseph to forget the difficulty and pain of his life. There is something wonderful about the Lord's capacity to cause all things to work for good. With Jesus in our lives, a time ultimately comes when God causes us to forget all the troubles of the past.
"And he named the second Ephraim, 'For,' he said, 'God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction'" (Gen. 41:52). God made him fruitful in the very things that afflicted him. In the land of your affliction, in your battle, is the place where God will make you fruitful. Consider, even now, the area of greatest affliction in your life. In that area God will make you fruitful in such a way that your heart will be fully satisfied and God's heart fully glorified.
Ultimately, the Lord will touch many others with the substance of what you have gained. In a world that is superficial, Christ will produce something in you that is deep and living.
God has not promised to deliver us from valleys and sufferings but to make us fruitful in that which was meant to destroy us. We each will pass through valleys to reach our goal in God. As we submit to Him in that area, the Living Christ shall, in time, come forth in power. The outcome of our trials is that the real Jesus emerges in our spirits and is expressed through our lives. He intends to make your life a key that unlocks God's stronghold for others.
Lord, You are God of the mountains and the valleys. I know that Your faithfulness is my shield and my bulwark. Thank You for redeeming the conflicts of my life; I praise You for healing me and causing me to forget all the trauma of my past.
Now, Lord, help me to not forget what I have learned here. Cause me to remember that the crises in my life always precede the enrichment of my life. Help me to recognize that the place of my fruitfulness is in the land of my affliction. In Jesus' name. Amen.
--This message is adapted from the Stronghold of God.