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through the fire

This is one of those weeks for me to be brutally honest here on my blog.  Lest you ever thought that my life was hunky dory all the time–it is not.  I don’t have it all together most of the time.  I lack faith when I shouldn’t.  I take my eyes off God and put them on my circumstances way too often.  I get my priorities all mixed up. I have times of weakness and moments of despair.

I stumble and fall.  Get back up again.  Fall again.  Try a little harder next time.  And so it goes.

It sure has been one of those weeks.  You know–the kind where everything just seems to be going all wrong.  Sick kids who never seem to get better, sad news to have to share with special friends, another car that ends up in the salvage yard…on and on and on.  Yeah, a week where you feel like it would just be so much better to stay in bed for the entire day and wake up when it’s all over. 

It’s just been one of those times for me when life gets tough and the soul gets oh-so-weary. We know those days all too well, don’t we?  They’re just part of life.

Days like these are not new to us.

The last ten months have been all about this kind of thing.  It’s been a time of great stripping.  A time of the Master Gardener pruning His glorious creation.  He has slowly but surely [and very intentionally] been stripping us of many, many things. Stripping.  Pruning.  Stripping.  Pruning.

And it hurts like heck!

I don’t like it.  At all.  When the Lord strips us of the things that we have held onto, man, it’s painful.  Honestly, some days it feels like that is all God has done with my family in this season–taken away, taken away, taken away…

Until all that is left are our hearts laid bare before Him.  Yielded and willing and ready to say, “Whatever, God!”  “Whatever you want, Lord!”  “We’re finally getting the message, Lord.”

“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

Sometimes God has to strip us of things for His plans and purposes to be revealed in our lives. Things hold us back.  Things keep us grounded in one place, too comfortable to move forward.  A season of stripping is a good thing. God takes away one thing only to lead us on to something else–something far greater.  Ultimately it’s all for His glory. 

I am beginning to understand the “refiner’s fire” spoken about in the book of Malachi so much more than I ever did.  I used to be afraid of going through the fire with God.  I read about poor old Job and was like, “Ummm, God, thanks, but no thanks.”   The refiner’s fire was a scary thing to me–something I wondered if I could endure if my big time test ever came.

Well, it did come.  It was one of those things that came up out of nowhere and hit us head-on.  No warning.

God showed up and called us to walk–through the fire–one step at a time.

He did it for our good. To sanctify us, to purify us, to refine us.  To separate all the impurities in our lives. So that we can stand–pure and holy.  Sanctified.

And the only thing that remains is good fruit. 

As I look back on the last few months of our lives, and as I ponder all that has transpired, I realize that my relationship with God has changed.  I have changed.  I am not the same girl I was ten months ago.  I have tasted and I have seen that God is good…all the time.

He is good when we’re so deep down in the valley and we cannot see our way out. 

He is good when we’re standing on the highest mountain top.

He is good when we don’t see where the road leads us.

He is good in our lack.

He is good in our abundance.

He is a good God.  I can say that with absolute certainty in my heart.

And so for the first time in my walk as a Christian I have learned to embrace The Great Refiner’s fire.  I am learning that when He refines me, it is all part of His plan and purpose for my life. He prepares me for the task ahead.  He removes the dross that hinders me and holds me back and equips me to run the race that He has set before me–and to do it well.

As our time of refining continues, we’re excited about what lies ahead. We have heard the voice of the Lord and our answer is, “Yes, Lord.”  “Whatever, God.”  A new call.  A new purpose.  A season of change for our family.  When He has finally completed the task of pruning us, we’ll be ready–ready to run toward the finish line with perseverance, courage and renewed faith rising in our hearts.

Learning to embrace each and every season the Lord allows me to go through in this life.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good
blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.”
Psalm 34:8