How To Play With FIRe

The caterpillar into the butterfly. The duckling into the swan. The peasant into the princess. The small town girl turns into Jem and the Holograms. Since childhood I’ve been obsessed with the idea of transformation (which is why I gave a shout out to my favorite 1980s cartoon!).

Perhaps it was because I wanted to shed my skin and emerge as something different the way children do. At the core of my soul, I have always believed change is possible.  

In college I read The Rising of the Phoenix as part of a project on Greek mythology, and a spark ignited within me like a match to tinder. There was something about the story of this bird—going into the desert, crying out to a silent sun, rising from ashes to fly home— that moved my soul and gave me hope.

The legend has been told and retold over years and cultures. But the phoenix was always a symbol of resurrection, rebirth, and renewal. As I read the story, however, the phoenix was more than a faraway fable or symbol of faith. It was me.

My life was in flames, and I had nowhere to turn.        

I don’t know if it was the bird’s loneliness or the isolation or the desire to be transformed that resonated with me the most, but I lost myself in the prose of ancient times. The myth seemed to give me a bird’s-eye view [pun intended], of my own story. As I read about the exhausted bird traveling in desperation to an isolated desert, I caught a glimpse of my own life and the promise that one day I—like the phoenix—would be made new.

But this wasn't just about me. It's a reality we all face.

In life, in leadership, in work, and in relationships, there will be proverbial fires that threaten our lives; moments that make us feel like all hope is gone and nothing can or will ever change. But I want to remind you, the same fire that destroys is the same fire that can transform. It’s not about our circumstances; it’s about what we’re made of.  

In our moments of pain and confusion, silence and isolation, we must hold on to the promises of God’s Word.

What is empty can be filled.

What is broken can be mended.

What is divided can be multiplied.

What is dead can live again.
Jesus Christ is the living proof.

Just as God was faithful to resurrect His Son Jesus Christ, God is faithful to keep His promises to us too. The power that raised Jesus from the grave is alive in us today (Rom. 8:11). And the Spirit is not just promised to perfect people, or pretty people, or polished people, but for all who call on the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:21).

In the loneliest of times, we have a wondrous opportunity to discover a deity who is not far away, but close; not silent, but speaking; not incapable, but incredible. It is that God who took me through the fire like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to reveal His presence.

I’m excited to announce that we will be learning to Play With Fire in our upcoming Propel book club! I want to share personal and biblical stories with you because I believe we can be transformed in the midst of chaos, exhaustion, and confusion.

In the deepest fiber of my being, I believe that when we go through life’s fires, we will rise transformed. We will go through the fire like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We will experience the presence of the one true God, the creator of fire.

Unlike the mythical gods of ancient times, our bold requests for transformation will be heard by God, who will resurrect us to new life through the power of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Together we shall rise from the ashes . . .

Biance Juarez Olthoff

Bianca Juarez Olthoff is Creative Director for Propel Women and author of Play With Fire. To join the Propel book club, sign up HERE and order your book on Amazon today.


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