A quote from A Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle

…most growth has come during times of trial. Trial by fire. Fire as an image of purification is found all through literature. Dante speaks of the fire of roses. George MacDonald’s Curdie has to plunge his hands deep into the burning fire of roses. In Scripture we read, “Our God is a consuming fire”. God is “like a refiner’s fire”. Moses saw God in a burning bush, a bush which was burned and was not consumed, as we are to be burned by this holy fire and yet not consumed. We are to be refined in the fire like silver. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked through the flames. The Spirit descended and descends in tongues of fire.

Satan has tried to take fire over as his image, teasing, tormenting us with the idea of the flames of hell. Dante understood the wrongness of this in having the most terrible circle of hell be cold.

Coldness of the last circle of hell; coldness of heart; lack of compassion; treating people as objects; pride, setting ourselves apart from the “others” – all these are cold.

It is a terrible choice: the purifying fire of the Creator or the deathly cold fire of Satan.

Soon after I became a Christian I was given a copy of “The Fight” by John White – basically a primer on Christian living for the newly converted, I can’t remember much about it except that I recall earnestly working my way through some questions at the end of each chapter and tucking these answers inside. My point, almost 15 years on, it that with a title like this I can’t say I wasn’t warned and yet I believe I’d like to register a complaint… does discipleship have to be this hard?  It does. It is the crucible that burns away the impurities and transforms or the seed that dies for a plant to grow and produce fruit.

“Will you lay down your life for me?”

You have to choose a path less travelled, and keep choosing it, again and again. ‘Disciple’ and ‘discipline’ are based on the same root word “to learn”. All manner of things will be well, not necessarily the ones you had planned, and you will be blessed abundantly. You will give more than you knew you had, find more that you knew to look for. But, fair warning, it will be hard work, it is a lifelong struggle against the tide of dominant culture and ‘empire’.