I was reading a book called Falling Upward when I read this quote. It left me eyes wide open. I know what it means to be burned but not consumed.
Second-half-of-life, hard-won wisdom. In the first half of our lives, we have no container for such awesome content, no wineskins that are prepared to hold such utterly intoxicating wine. You see, authentic God experience always “burns” you, yet does not destroy you (Exodus 3: 2–3), just as the burning bush did to Moses. But most of us are not prepared for such burning, nor even told to expect it. (Roar 2011 pg 12-13).
The second-half-of-life is about spiritual maturity not chronological age. It is saying that spiritual growth comes when we recognize that God is trying to refine us, take away sin, restore trust, challenge us through grace and mercy. Those moments leave us feeling stung, maybe guilty, definitely repentant. We find ourselves, as Moses did, in the presence of God. What hurt becomes Holy.
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” (Exodus 3: 1-3 NIV).
I’m not off my rocker. It is possible to be burned but not consumed. Throughout my life, I have had many “ah ha” moments where God has entered my circumstances and showed me the error of my ways. One such time was early in my marriage. My husband and I had been bickering a lot. I began to pray. I told God I didn’t like how this felt, and that it wasn’t what I wanted in a marriage. God answered that prayer by showing me that I had turned into a nag. Yes, I admit it a nag. I knew that if I changed my ways the marriage would change. It burned. It did not feel good, but I was not consumed.
Changing my reactions to my husband was no small feat, but it changed the trajectory of our marriage. Allowing a moment of being burned but not consumed, hurt and made me a more gracious wife. I know now when the fire starts that God is transforming me into a more Christlike person. I know it won’t consume me. I know that it moves me further into the second-half-of-life.
Are you ready to move into the second-half-of-life? Are you ready to be refined to become more compassionate and gracious? How have you been burned but not consumed? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.