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  • Writer's pictureIain Johnston

The Firestorm

The harsh, barren open plains are frigid and unforgiving. The wind is merciless.

Everything ... I mean everything... is dry around you.

You’re the only living thing withstanding the environment.

Barely.


The sky is one great shadow of storm cloud, ever threatening to dump its torrential downpour, often doing so. But rather than breaking and releasing the warmth of sunlight you crave, they eerily never do. It haunts you. Torments you.


It begins again. The rain.

For what it’s worth... you glance around hollowly for shelter, knowing full well no shelter exists. But just in case.


As the friendless, chilling rain begins to lean heavier upon you, you look to the south. The barren plain stretches to the horizon and meets the blackened turbulent sky, sealing shut any hope from that direction.

To the north, it is hopelessly the same.


You peer east and a similar view awaits your heavy and un-expectant eyes.

West?

There’s a squall. Naturally. There’s always a squall coming from some direction or another.


The only protection you have is a coat. Long, heavy and protecting from the rain. You wrap it as tightly as you can around yourself.

Do you just stand there and wait for the rain to pass?

You might as well. You’ve been walking this plain in all directions for a long time... and never has there been any change to the bleak landscape, with it’s endless horizon insisting that nothing is going to appear that will bring hope.

Or... do you keep walking?

Tired and weary though you are.


Somehow you know that if you stand still, the frigid elements will soak into the marrow of your bones and freeze up your ligaments and moving forward will become impossible.

So you brace yourself against the rain, the coat wrapped tightly around you... and you walk.

You just... keep going.


Under your coat... you hold a book to your chest. In it’s pages are words that you cling to. They’re the only source of hope that you have.

That... and a voice. A whisper, deep in your spirit.

Like a soothing strength, it gently affirms the words in the Book you cling tightly to under your coat.


Not too long ago... but seemingly forever ago... the plain you stand in now was lush and fertile. You flourished. Fields were producing blessings, sunlight drenched everything, bringing nourishment to everything you did. People you loved and cared about came and enjoyed the abundance of your plains.


It’s all a mere distant memory now. It’s hard to even remember what it was like to feel that sunshine on your skin, to feel the laughter shake your soul from within, to waken each day with joy and anticipation.


When you first saw that dark storm cloud approaching, you could never have imagined that it would bring such frigid lifelessness.


You remember that moment when the darkness came and the storm swept in.

Friends and loved ones slowly disappeared, looking for other flourishing plains to visit and enjoy.

But then, there was One.


He’s always been there. Always faithfully by your side. He was always the purest love you have ever known.


He too, saw the coming storm ... and knew of the coming darkness.

He gave you the Coat you now wear.

When the storm first struck, it’s winds buffering you for the first time, you put the Coat on and immediately felt the faith that no matter how hard the storm blows, no matter how torrential the rain, no matter how long you would have to withstand the frigid elements... the Coat was going to protect you.

And it has.

It fills you with the assurances that you will somehow come through, that it will never fail you, so long as you keep yourself wrapped within its covering.


The Coat also protects something else.

The Book you carry under its covering. A Book full of Truths and Promises, Assurances and Love. Every chance you get to read it, the words inside light a fire within your soul.

The Book is precious to you.


The storm has removed all sunshine. It’s warmth kissing your skin, its rays dispersing the darkness, its flooding goodness bringing life wherever it reaches.

Sunlight has not reigned down upon you for so long.

You’ve realised that you can’t rely on that precious life giving warmth to break through this storm.

But the Book... and it’s words... they bring that fire and warmth. Not from external elements. But a warmth, a fire, a light that burns from within.

And with your Coat wrapped tightly around you, the storm cannot reach that fire and douse it with its frigid breath.


And the Voice, the whisper... the gentle uttering that you know comes from the One who gave you the Book and the Coat. His Voice penetrates the loneliness and corrects the wayward wanderings of your mind, the thoughts that feed despair, hopelessness, fear and the more than whimsical suggestions to not go on any further.


The Voice reminds you of who you truly are.

You’re not defined by this storm and this frigid barren landscape.

You are royalty.

This storm, though seemingly unrelenting, will one day pass.

The Voice re-iterates over and over the words and promises of the Book. Words that He himself inspired. He relishes the opportunity to prove the faithfulness of His Love and the faithfulness of His Words. It fuels the fire and light that burns within.


The faith you feel under the coat. The fire you feel from the Book.

The unfailing Presence of the Voice.

You hang on tightly to these things.

You know that if you let either go, the storm will ravage your soul and steal, kill and destroy everything that you are.

So you dare not.


And so you hang tightly.

There is at times a Peace that settles you, even in the drenching torrential downpour of the darkest moments of the storm.

That Peace doesn’t belong. But it gives you the assurance... that the Coat, the Book and the Voice will prevail against the fierceness and longevity of the storm.

And that makes you feel strong. Courageous even.


And in those moments... something you never thought possible takes place.

You begin to entertain thoughts that this storm can give birth to things within yourself that never would be birthed had the frigid elements not come against you.


In some moments you even dare to embrace the storm and darkness in... and you set your jaw in determination and cry out from your soul,


“Strip me bare of anything that is not good and pure within. Though you weaken me, I am made stronger. I am closer to the One who protects me with this Coat, this Book and the Voice. And the closer I am, the more I prevail against your squalls, your downpours and your darkness. The Fire within burns brighter and the sunlight you try to steal comes more and more from within each day.

I am stronger.

Brighter.

Purer.

Closer.

And more powerful because of you, oh storm.”


Words from the Book fill your heart and soul.

“So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” *


So... you look to the south once more. To the North.

To the West and to the East.

You don’t need to see a break in the clouds or the end of the storm on the four horizons.

Oh, it will come.


But everything you need is within. The Voice. The Book. The Coat.

The Spirit of the One, the Word of the One, and Faith.

The three are impenetrable.


That fire within you begins to burst forth from you. And you noticed the howling winds can’t reach you; the rain can’t break through the fire and drown you; the frigid elements can’t pierce through the radiating warmth and sting you to your bone and marrow.

Sure, the storm and the elements rage all around you. Pushing even harder to try and penetrate into this new fire bursting forth from within.

But the fire of the Spirit, the Word and Faith push back harder.


And you realise... a storm is stirring within you. A different kind of storm. A fire storm.

A fire and heat so strong, that the wind and the rain and the darkness are pushed back.

As the fire continues to burn stronger and push out from you harder... you look down at the ground around you.


Life is beginning to regrow around you.

You realise... the storm is no match for the One that is within. The One who brings Life.


Now you know, that the storm will break apart and dissipate.

Maybe soon.

Maybe not for some time.

But it will.


Maintaining that fire, you find, takes courage. It is a fight.

A fight one day you’ll win.

And another you’ll lose.

But when you lose, the One within you will help you rise up once more to push back once again.

Like a pendulum, to and fro it will be.

But you know the days you win will increase. You know the Fire will slowly burn brighter and hotter.


So you cry out to the storm one more time:


“You can do your worst. But the more you do.... the more that I push back against you.

You say I can’t handle the storm. But I say, I am the storm.”


And with the One within you... you are.


And the darkness and frigid elements shudder and weaken.


The Spirit. The Word. Faith.

Within. One with you.

This is your weapon.

A Warrior you can be. Pushing back.

Yes.


Embrace the Fire within!!



*(James 1:4)


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