life in the furnace


The Desert Fathers (and Mothers) of the fourth and fifth centuries, referred to time spent in silence/solitude as “life in the furnace.” Beyond prayer and study and Christian community is silence. Solitude. Stillness.  Aloneness. With God.

Henri Nouwen writes, “Solitude is the furnace in which transformation takes place” The Way of the Heart, p10.

“Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self. Jesus himself entered into this furnace” The Way of the Heart, pp15-6.

“Solitude is the place of the great struggle against the compulsions of the false self, and the encounter with the loving God who offers Himself as the substance of the new self” The Way of the Heart, also p16.

In silence we embrace conversion at the deepest level.

When there is nothing between us and God, and we are completely vulnerable before Him.

Why the desert, why the wilderness, for the Desert Fathers and Mothers of the fourth and fifth centuries?

Because it is in the desert we are made vulnerable. And in the desert we find silence. And solitude.

And if we will allow, God, and ourselves….

Life in the furnace.

Where everything else is burned away.

Everything that hinders, all that weighs us down, all that holds us back, is consumed.

And all that remain are us and God.

I’ve been trying to spend as much time as possible in the furnace lately.

To be still.  To be quiet.  For all of the static to fade into nothing.  And to simply attempt to be in tune with God.

This is what I’ve learned from these last 40+ days….

1) God is faithful.

2) My wife and children are beautiful.

3) God is the one in control.

“Our God is a consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4, Hebrews 12).

Glory to God!


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