Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Becoming Golden

It is when we are real before God and allow ourselves to voice the questions of our hearts that He is able to answer and fill us with faith and a deeper understanding of both who He is and who we are in Him. When we strive to be the "perfect Christian" during trials telling ourselves that it isn't alright to pour our questions out before the Lord that He is unable to take us deeper with Him. Trials can be an invitation to draw close to Him-A refining fire IF we will allow ourselves to stay within the consuming flames.

My Mom died when I was 20 (she was 40 at the time). My College boyfriend of 3 years asked my Dad for my hand in marriage and then broke up with me. My husband suffers from a chronic illness (Crohn's Disease) and has literally spent up to a year in the hospital (collectively at different times) over our ten years of marriage. Surgeons have told us that he has been hours away from death. My Dad died when I was 32. I have lost all of my grandparents over the years. That covers some of the trials that I have had in my life...things that have shaken me as a person, tested my faith, and shaped me into who I have become now at the age of 36.

I have been "reflecting" this past week on my personal journey of faith. Trials and loss have been plentiful in my life. I know my refiner's fire well. Everyone has their own "story." Their own set of circumstances that contribute to who they become. I have lived both openly and honestly during the "flames" and I have also pulled out of the lick of the fire pretending to be purified, shiny and golden in order to appear like I am a "good Christian" while the corrosion slowly took over my heart.

There is a difference between going through a trial and allowing yourself to remain in the refiner's fire. Although you may not be able to leave your circumstances, remaining in the circumstances and riding the storm doesn't mean that you will come out the other side a better person-changed by the Lord because of what you have gone through. That is a choice made when you find the heat of the flames upon your soul.

I am writing today to encourage myself and anyone reading (I believe God has directed you to this blog if you are reading it.) to choose to stay within the refiner's fire when it comes. Be willing to be real. With others but most importantly with God. Bring your deepest questions, fears, desires, tears, and laughter before Him. Invite Him to reveal himself to your heart deeply. He loves you and longs for you to take your refuge in Him during the storms and trials of life. Looking back after the storms have passed, you will be glad that you did.

I love this Psalm written by David when he was in the Desert of Judah. I will share a small portion, but it is worth reading in it's entirety. Psalm 63:7-8 "Because you are my help, I will sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me." Cling to Him and sing in the shadow of His wings...

Refiner's Fire

Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold

Refiner's fire
My heart's one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You my Master
Ready to do Your will

Brian Doerksen / 1990 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing

(Copyrighted Material A Teachable Heart 2009)


Gretchen said...

Ah, the holy refinery. I tend to hate it and do all i can to avoid visiting. But what I should be doing is giving thanks. Not for the pain in and of itself, but for how the suffering catches my attention and focuses me unlike any other situation. Hopefully, right on God.

Thank you for your authenticity on this, Shanda. Hugs.

Lora said...

thanks for being real. It's so refreshing...and so needed.

Kathryn said...

Shanda, how true it is that many of us try and escape the flames before the purification is complete! This draws my heart to the unshakeable faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Adbednego as they faced the fiery furnace: " 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.' ... Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and ... said, 'Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.' " (Daniel 3:17-18, 24-25)

That Scripture reminds me that even when I am in the fire, the Lord is right there with me!

seesawfaith said...

I love that God uses you so eloquently to express his desires for us. Love you!

I was reading the account of Lazarus and this post seems to want to walk and in hand with my personal reading.

Jesus allowed Lazarus to die and stay in the tomb, so that his power and glory would be apparent to those that loved Lazarus.

I truly believed that one of the reasons that Jesus wept was because he knew that our stubborn human hearts needed to see the tragedy to understand the miracle-worker. But don't forget, Jesus knew lazarus' life was not done, and knew the amazing part that Lazarus would play in his unfolding plan. Remember that even when you cry, he crys for you, even though he knows the glorious completion of the plan that we are a small but beautiful part of.

Anonymous said...

I used to (and still do) look at women of great faith and wisdom and long to be like them. I wanted God to speak to me like He spoke to them. One day it dawned on me that each of the women I admired had all gone through - and were still going through - incredible trials in their life. Oh, what God is teaching them as they remain in the fire!

Shanda, I see your pure gold.

"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 perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."
1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV)

Kate said...

Wow, that is very intense refining. I'm so glad I stopped by your blog today and read that post.

Roxane said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! What a wise woman you are. I'm not very well versed in religious scripts and such but I will go back and read your post again. I feel like I have so much to learn!

Pam said...

Very nice put. Thank you for sharing your life, the ups and downs.

Still Learning said...

I love this post! Thank you for sharing.... so true so true. I have struggled with this many times last year. Love your blog... I just found it.

HappyascanB said...

I'm a new follower. . . . this is absolutely beautiful! What a life you've lived thus far and I praise God that you embrace being in that fire.