“With the flames of love’s fire that Jesus kindled in my heart, I caused the ice of Siberia to melt. Hallelujah!”
Bishop Victor Belikh’s face lit up as he spoke these words. He had learned the powerful secret of letting God take over one’s heart even in the worst of circumstances. For twenty years he had suffered in the lonely prison cell in Communist Russia without a visit or news from his family or friends.
Every evening, a simple straw mattress was placed in his small cell. He was allowed to sleep for seven hours before the mat was removed. He spent the remaining seventeen hours of each day walking circles in his pathetic little space, and if he stopped or broke down, guards would beat him or throw water on him until he continued. After twenty years of such incredible hardship, he was sent to a forced-labor camp for another four years in Northern Siberia, where the ice never melts. He survived only because he allowed the fire of God to melt away all bitterness and anger.
Belikh’s situation is rare, but his resolve through Jesus Christ is available to everyone who suffers. Jesus stoked the fire of love in Belikh’s heart—a godly furnace that was able to keep him warm for twenty years.
Fire. The mere word ignites powerful images. It implies danger when shouted in a crowded building. It embodies comfort when camping on a frosty night. It is connected with strong emotions during the “heat” of the moment or a “fiery” temper. Fire is also used to refine and to harden metals through the smelting process. Fire illuminates and consumes darkness. In all these images, one thing remains constant. Fire is associated with change. Like an encounter with fire, an encounter with God is life changing. Has the fiery love of Christ ignited, sustained, refined, comforted, and ultimately liberated you as it did Belikh? Human cruelty can never extinguish the flame of God’s love. Is the flame of God’s love alive in you?