I’ve been reflecting on Seasons. Summer held on longer than I expected, and it seems Fall flew by in a month. For the locals, this might be “nothing yet”… but for this Washington-native… it is straight-up freezing outside. I will continue to bundle up my kids like Randy in A Christmas Story even if it’s “not that cold” yet. Because oh-my-goodness, it’s cold for me and my tribe. To us, winter is here. (So yes, the Christmas music is on, and our tree will be up soon. Haters gonna hate.)
But despite the heat wave finally passing and cooler temps staking their claim until Spring, I have felt like I’m in the fire. The refiner’s fire to be exact. (Also known as a trial, a test, an affliction, a time to endure.) This fire may not be as big as the last one, but I can sure feel it.
I started writing this blog over a month ago, so I’ve had some time to live in it and reflect on it. Then I realized it was just sitting in the draft folder on WordPress, and I’ve been ignoring its finish. Why? Because the fire hasn’t been put out yet. It’s definitely cooled in the last couple weeks, but I wanted to post this blog from a place of victory, when the wait was finally over and the trial was complete. But the message is burning within me once again, so instead, I will share with you from within the fire, to offer hope and point to Him. I pray that no matter what you’re facing today, you’re encouraged to hold on to Him, and to keep going.
An email from Christine Caine sparked this whole thing in my heart in late September, putting into words what my mind couldn’t. It was titled “Faith Like Gold.” I couldn’t help but think of this burden we’ve been carrying, this trouble/annoyance. My perspective started to shift as my eyes were fixed again on Him.
I wondered honestly: What if this season has a purpose? What if there’s a reason for this unplanned financial pressure, something new for me to learn (or re-learn)? What if my faith is in the fire, under trial, being tested? Will it stand? Will it come out like gold?
I looked up some verses on testing and fires and affliction. The list is long, but worth our attention. Read it through a lens of grace; may it be Living Water washing over those in the fire, refreshingall the weary souls.
Job 23:10 – “But He knows the way that I take [He has concern for it, appreciates, and pays attention to it]; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold [pure and luminous].”
Psalm 26:2 – “Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.”
Psalm 66:10 – “For You have tried us, O God; You refined us as silver is refined.”
Psalm 105:19 – “Until the time that [Joseph’s] word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him.”
Psalm 119:140 – “Your word is very pure (tried and well refined); therefore Your servant loves it.”
Isaiah 1:25 – “I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities.”
Isaiah 48:10 – “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”
Daniel 11:35 – “Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.”
Zechariah 13:9 – “This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.'”
Romans 5:3-5 – “And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 – “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”
James 1:2-6, 12 – “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because He who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind… Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”
1 Peter 1:6-7 – “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perished even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
Another day, another stolen moment to write, to reflect, to let the truth sink in.
As I resisted the urge to turn on worship music or do the next thing on my endless to-do list… as I let myself be still, the thought invaded my moment:
Get comfortable in the quiet. With Him.
So I prayed, “take me deeper.” Take me deeper in my talking, and my listening.
And then He gave a missing piece.
God so gently reminded me that He was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fire. He was right there with them. He took their ties/chains off. And He protected them; not one hair was burned. (You can read the full story in Daniel 3.)
He has been settling this truth in my heart: He is with me in this fire. He will protect me, and He will remove the chains that don’t belong.
From there, I was inspired to ask the question: what does He want my faith to look like at the end of this season? What is He breaking off through this trial? What is He burning up in the refiner’s fire? What doesn’t belong in my heart, in my life, that He is using this test to take care of?
I jotted down a quick list…
- a complaining spirit
- comparison – our story is ours, not theirs; their quick answer has nothing to do with me
- fear – of a lack of provision (He’s replacing it with His love; love casts out fear)
- my timeline/preferences over His
- shame, humiliation – caring so much about what other people think
- perfection – having it all, having it all together in this life, on this earth
- my dreams/wish list before His
- anger, irritation
- unbelief, lack of faith
- trust in people more than God, finding comfort in them before Him
Letgo my soul, and trust in Him.
I don’t want to miss the work He wants to do in and through me. I want to be aware that He’s here with me, and He has a purpose for it all. He’s turning it all to good; He’s making it beautiful.
Another day, He provides another piece of the puzzle… He shines a light on Isaiah 43:1-2 – “But now, this is what the Lord says–He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.‘”
You are His. You’re not alone in your affliction; God is walking with you through the fire. He doesn’t want YOU to be burned – your soul, your faith, your essential self. But He is purifying your heart, removing things that He never intended to be present in your life. I know it’s hard, and I know it hurts. But His perfect love is casting out our fear and calling our faith to rise.
We believe God called our family 2,263 miles from our home in Washington. He provided my husband with an amazing job, and our family with an incredible church. We stepped out in faith and picked a day and decided to move. God has shown His faithfulness over and over in the last 4 months (and in the 6 months before that when we were waiting for this new opportunity).
There is still one place in particular that we’re waiting to see a complete answer to prayer.
I have wrestled in the last 100+ days, wondering what is taking so long for this thing to happen. First, working through doubt that I did something wrong. Next, thinking I wasn’t doing enough. Then, believing it was the enemy’s fault.
Now, I believe God is using this trial, this situation, this circumstance as a test. A fire. Whatever the cause or reason, He’s teaching me to fix my eyes on Him and not miss the things He wants to show me as our long job wait morphed into another (unexpected) wait.
On the outside, it may appear that I’ve taken something insignificant (the sale of our house) and turned it in to something super-spiritual. But this physical and financial circumstance has had a ripple affect in other areas of my life. Depression has run deep, anxiety has cut to my core; my heart has felt the weight of this trial, whether it seems like a big deal or not. I’m learning to walk through this fire with the Lord, leaning into Him like never before.
Moving our family across the country took faith. We thought, as a result, our chapter there would close up neatly, quickly, easily. And when it didn’t, the enemy brought doubt, fear and lies to the forefront. God, in His grace, is assuring me that this testing is for trusting – for relying fully on Him.
Instead of filling space and void with sound and busyness, may we take the time to create moments to be still. To talk to Him. To listen. To prioritize sitting at His feet. To believe that He is good, and that He’s still in control.
He longs to fill our fiery wait with His heart, His love, His truth, Himself.