Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Refiner's Fire

I recently was a reading a book and one of the questions asked was "What is my duty before the God who loves me?" This took me a while to figure out but I realized that I need to love people more and fear them less. I am easily intimidated by others and I tend to make people bigger than God. It's taken me some time, but I can now see that God is the one I need to look to for fulfilling my needs. I was created in His image and to image God means I must represent Him for His glory. I need to be like Him in every way.

For a long time, I had been relying on people to fill my cup of "need". I believed that I needed them to fill me with encouragement, love, support and friendship to make me feel good about myself. No where in the Bible does it say that I need to receive love so I can feel better about me. I was desiring these things not for God's glory but for my own pleasure. Jesus needed to break my cup of needs rather than allow it to be filled. Those needs had been growing and I was seeking people to fill them and consequently, I wasn't asking God to fill me up. Little did I know that I was about to enter the Refiner's fire. Through a series of events, I realized how unhealthy that was and in the process, God brought me to a place of brokenness and pain. A pain that reached my core and I can now see how that pain was His refining fire.

A refiner's fire does not destroy or consume, rather it refines and purifies. It melts down the metals, separates the impurities and leaves the silver and gold together. God is the refiner, the fire that purifies me. But, it is still a fire- hot, fearful and painful and although it comes at a cost it also has wonderful hope. 

I am tested because God loves me and when trials come my way, I know that I am being refined in Christ and I need to trust in Him. Through it all my character is being developed and I have hope of my salvation and I will not be disappointed in His love for me.

So what is it like in the the Refiner's fire? Honestly, it hurt. A lot. Over the past five months I have cried many tears, asked many unanswered questions and spent many hours asking God why. But as I've come through this fire and I continue on the path of following Jesus, I know that if there is no pain, there is no gain. I have learned to lean on the steadfast faithfulness and love of my Father as I trusted Him to carry me through. I've also realized that I "need people in my life in order to accomplish God's purposes so that I can reflect his glory" (Welch, 164). If I continued to think that I had this "cup" that needed to be filled so I could be happy, I wouldn't be able to fully be showered in God's love for me. The path of His love is not easy or without suffering but it will leave me overflowing - my cup that He fills cannot begin to contain all that He has for me.

I am now a stronger person, a little more confident in myself and am working at loving people more than I am needing them to fill me. I can look back and thank God for the lessons I have learned and I will continue to walk in His path. I also know that there will be many more fires to walk through in my life because God isn't finished purifying me yet. I need to be continually refined because I will always have impurities that need working on but God is good and I know He has wonderful plans for my life.

So back to the first question of "what is my duty before God?" It is to love people as God loves me. To show them grace and mercy as my Father has shown me grace and mercy. To show them the love of Jesus through me. I can see that the way that I need others in my life is different. I need them so that I can glorify God. To be taught and counseled, to ask me the hard questions and for me to do the same for them. His word encourages us to love God and love other people and that's what I am striving for.


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