“Fire is the test of gold; adversity, of strong men.” Martha Graham
Fire is an oxidation process that releases energy in varying intensities in the form of light and heat and often creates smoke. It is commonly used to describe either a fuel in a state of combustion or a violent, destructive and uncontrolled burning. The discovery of how to make fire is considered one of humankind's most important advances, allowing primitive humans to ward off wild animals, cook food, and control their own source of light and warmth.
Fire is symbolic as well. In many cultures, it is understood that one of the symbolisms for fire or the statement “going through the fire”, is a definition of adversity. Life is full of trials and tests. As it is, trials usually comes when we are not ready. The major test of adversity comes when it is the trial by fire of your destiny, trial for your vision. This is because Fire is purifying; it burns away the transient and imperfect, thereby freeing the soul and immortalizing it. One must descend into Darkness to find the source of Light; one must die in order to be reborn.
“Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proven worthy; a geniun plan put through this suffering comes out success.”
Leadership in adversity
There is an ancient story of a man given a vision to rebuild his city, but he encountered stiff opposition. Limitation in finances, technology, and man power as well as the enemy were oppositions that seemed to keep the city from being built. This ancient leader negotiated and rallied the inhabitants of the city to equally assist in rebuilding as well as everyone shared responsibility of guarding it day and night to meet this threat. In other words, rally your troops and pass the ammunition! Assemble a diverse group of advisers, including someone who has the same kind of job you do... someone in a related field... and someone who works in a different field. You also might enlist a high-flying creative type as well as a stickler for details. Everyone in the group has a chance to broaden his/her experience, stimulate his imagination and stretch his sense of what is possible. Surround yourself with people who can help you through the tough times in life. You were never meant to do everything by yourself. Sometimes you need to have people around you to encourage you. Isolating yourself in times of adversity is one of the worst things that you can do.
Set up a regular meeting time once a month or every other month. Brainstorm ideas to overcome roadblocks. Don't settle for a single idea -- strive for three solutions to every problem. Remember, once you have been through the dark tunnel of adversity, little will scare you. You know you can turn any future adversity to your advantage.
Like that great ancient leader, he was true to his vision and completed the impossible task of rebuilding that famous city even in the face of adversity. To most people of that era thought the vision of rebuilding that great ancient city was crazy. Not to the holder of the vision!
Be Courageous in the Fire
One of the elements of this story that inspiring me is the fact that the one called to rebuild the city was not afraid of taking risks.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” Ambrose Redmoon
Many men never attempt anything significant because they might fail. They would rather be perfect in potentiality than imperfect in actuality. Any time two people come together on a business or personal level, one side is always asking the other -- implicitly or explicitly -- to assume most or all of the risk. Be the one ready to assume that risk by understanding and accepting potential negatives, such as looking bad, having to reverse a decision or taking a financial or an emotional hit. If you're looking for a new job, offer to work for two weeks at no cost to the employer. An applicant for a sales job did this and ended up traveling with a company salesperson. She provided a list of ideas to boost sales... and was quickly hired full-time.
There is a story about 3 Hebrew children living in Babylon who were confronted with a decision to compromise their faith when the king ordered them to bow to an idol of a pagan God, or be thrown into an execution chamber called "the fiery furnace". It was a place where people were literally burned to death when sentenced to execution.
They refused to compromise, they had absolute courage based on faith of there vision.
I am sure that there was fear to face in that decision, I am sure there was a temptation to compromise, but they chose not to and as a result were tied with ropes and thrown into the fiery furnace.
I have been through my own "fiery furnace" and have had plenty of opportunities to "give up" if I wanted to. I just simply refuse to allow my situations to dictate my relationship with my vision. Trust, lean on and be confident in the vision and do good with it. And you will succeed in the promise you were given because of your faithfulness. No matter how hot that furnance get’s know that your vision will never fail you and the source of your vision will not leave you without support. So cast the whole of your cares, all your anxieties, all your worries all your concerns, once and for all on the promise that the time of adversity is leading you to a greater place.