"Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:28,29 NIV)
There are some names of God we want to cozy up to: Protector, Shelter, Comforter, Love.
Then there are other names that might make us shrink back.
Just as we would pull away from an actual fire, we may be tempted to take a step back from God the Consuming Fire. But God is represented as fire dozens of times throughout Scripture, so it seems wise to take a step—however cautiously—toward this name.
"Consuming" brings to mind the idea of something being used up, of being taken down to nothing....which could seem negative and off-putting. But as with all of God's names, if it is attached to God, it is ultimately good. And it is for our good.
What does this Consuming Fire burn up? In the example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3), not their lives. Not their bodies or clothing. Not one hair on their heads. In fact, God was careful to inspire Daniel to record that when they emerged from the furnace, they did not even smell like smoke. The only things burned up were their bonds: the restrictions that held them in the fire.
Sometimes this is what God consumes in us: things that are binding us or restricting us from living the life He wills for us. Sometimes the Consuming Fire burns up sin. Sometimes He burns up distractions that are taking our focus off what really matters. Sometimes He burns up parts of us that are weak or contaminating so that we can be refined, like gold.
If you're feeling like the Consuming Fire is burning something up in you today, I pray you'll trust that what will emerge will be stronger and more beautiful—and that you'll lean in close to the warmth of God's love, which always feeds His holy fire.