The Refiners Fire
There are times and periods in the Christian life when God runs our faith through the fire. Back in Bible times bottles were made of skins. The skins were smoke-cured and preserved via the process. Gold and other precious metals are purified by super-heated fire, where the dross can be skimmed off.
When God puts our faith through the smoke and the fire, it is not a “test” in the sense we think of. He doesn’t have to “test” our faith to know how resilient and strong (or weak) it is. He is also not necessarily doing it to prove to us how strong or weak it is either. He is doing it to solidify that faith. Make it fixed and firm and pure and strong. While in the process it is not pleasant. It can be down right painful. It chafes and can make you cranky and irritable and moody.
But ultimately there is always a “coming out on the other side”. Everything “comes to pass” eventually.
Life is like that. We like it when rough times end and we get to enjoy some smooth-sailing for a while. Everyone looks forward to the smooth sailing. But it is during the easier times that we screw up, let our guard down, become complacent. All in all, I have come to the point in my life where I realize that I am so prone to that complacency, that God pretty much has to keep the hurdles, trials and challenges coming consistently, just to keep me out of trouble. Don’t know what that says about me. I guess it’s the nature of being human. We can be so very faithless and quickly forget the last thing God saw us through as soon as we enter the current storm.
Thank goodness God knows our frame and substance. We don’t ever disappoint Him, because He knew before we faltered, that we would.
Thank goodness, too, that God is merciful and patient and long-suffering with His children and is faithful to complete the good work He has begun in each of us.
The Christian walk can so often feel like that movie “Groundhog Day” where the guy just kept re-living the same day over and over until he finally learned some things. Somehow we fail to “get it” so we get “held back” and have to repeat that course.
I recently watched a show on the military channel about the Green Beret selection process. These men and women went through 2 weeks of grueling drills, sleep deprivation, extreme weather, marches, obstacle courses, and each time they passed a challenge and thought they could let up and take a breather, the next challenge came and was only that much more demanding. But in the end, the handful who were left standing, were the best of the best and each and every one of them had attained a distinction that set them apart among their peers. And that only earned them the privilege of entering the year-long Green Beret program, not the coveted Green Beret itself.
See, God is not interested in merely recruiting us. He has plans for what He wants to make of us. And ultimately those who will prevail in the end will be those who refuse to quit. Those who choose to submit to God’s process, and go on with Him wherever He in His wisdom, chooses to take them. Those are the ones God will make something of.
I don’t know about you, but I just want to reach that potential. I want to be what it is God has in mind to make me into. Whatever it takes. Whatever He requires me to endure, I trust Him. Even when it hurts. Even when I can’t even begin to envision where He is going. I trust Him.
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6)