The Refiner’s Fire

I believe in seasons of high pain, shattered dreams or disappointments it is so easy to think of all you want, desire and dream more than our all sufficient, all powerful, faithful, sovereign, good and wise God. So thankful that His grace and forgiveness are limitless and no matter how many times I sin or stray from my first love He is ready to forgive and welcome me back.

My husband and I have just walked through the hardest 6.5 months of lies, false accusations and betrayal by those whom we least expected. It has showed me how much He alone is faithful and sufficient, especially when people are not.

Prior to this, I had  4.5 years of being like the children of Israel pining to go back to Egypt for leeks and onions and forgetting about their hardships and slavery. My “leeks and onions” attitude made me look back too often wishing I was back in Arizona and for the friendships we had there, rather than looking ahead or looking up to God. This hard situation revealed a new side to our life back in Arizona (we left there due to health issues April 2014) and made me press hard into God in my pain, confusion and loss.

God also used this to reveal many things to my husband and I about our own hearts in how we responded to this. I would hate to ever walk through this again, but can see God that used a grievous thing for my eternal good and His glory. Hopefully in weeks, months and years to come will see that more and more.

We all know and quote Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” But the way things work for good and the purpose is described in verse 29:
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
The good purpose for all things is to conform us to the image of his son not our comfort or personal happiness.

Often conforming to Christ comes while walking through the heat of a refiner’s fire where the dross of sin, wrong motives and self focus are removed bit by bit. In my flesh, I often want God to be my fire extinguisher and put out the fire instead.

Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel. Proverbs 25:4

The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. Psalm 12:6

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. Malachi 3:3

Reading this a few years ago really helped me to endure the fires of shattered dreams, health struggles and all suffering. Today it was a reminder I once again needed.

One day we took the children to see a goldsmith refine gold after the ancient manner of the East. He was sitting beside his little charcoal fire. (“He shall sit as a refiner”; the gold- or silversmith never leaves his crucible once it is on the fire.) In the red glow lay a common curved roof tile; another tile covered it like a lid. This was the crucible. In it was the medicine made of salt, tamarind fruit and burnt brick dust, and imbedded in it was the gold. The medicine does its appointed work on the gold, “then the fire eats it,” and the goldsmith lifts the gold out with a pair of tongs, lets it cool, rubs it between his fingers, and if not satisfied puts it back again in fresh medicine. This time he blows the fire hotter than it was before, and each time he puts the gold into the crucible, the heat of the fire is increased; “it could not bear it so hot at first, but it can bear it now; what would have destroyed it then helps it now.” “How do you know when the gold is purified?” we asked him, and he answered, “When I can see my face in it [the liquid gold in the crucible] then it is pure.”
Amy Carmichael

My prayer is I will be conformed more and more to His image rather than fighting to put out the fire.

Blessings,

Deb

Pretending to be Normal

My life in recent years has changed greatly due to multiple chronic illnesses taking up residence in my body. My brain and emotions still feel normal even though my body doesn’t always respond.

I was recently asked in early December if I would like to host a dinner party in our home in appreciation of our church Life Group Leaders on January 5th . We were not planning on going out of town over the holidays and figured with hubby’s help could pick at it and be fine with it knowing would have a day or two of recovery afterwards.

The week before Christmas I looked at flight schedules to where our daughter and her family live and found a killer deal leaving Christmas Eve night. Only $82 for both of our round trips with taxes and everything. My hubby was the one preaching the sermon Sunday morning on Christmas Eve day, so leaving earlier not an option. We talked to our daughter and son-in-love and decided to go for it. Hubby could only stay until the 28the with work and church commitments but I booked my return flight for the morning of January 3.

The week before our trip I was doing a mad scramble trying to pack and get the a table runner and other decor made for the Dinner party. I made lists, meal plans and instructions for hubby to take Christmas tree down etc before I arrived home.

I had a wonderful ten days with my daughter’s family and so enjoyed the time with our four grandchildren between the ages of 6 months and 7 years old. Not sure if it was the lower elevation or joy of being with everybody but physically felt much better while I was there.

I arrived home mid morning on January 3 and life was a blur of trying to stuff reaction symptoms with meds, pushing through pain, cleaning, decorating and cooking. The other pastors and wives took care of prepping the prime rib and dessert which helped immensely. All was done with time to spare so we were able to relax for a few minutes before guests arrived. I popped some extra B-12 sublingual to give me energy and thoroughly enjoyed our evening. God blessed our goal of making the Life Group Leaders feeling blessed, refreshed and appreciated.

I slept or rested all day Saturday and went to church service Sunday morning and a reception that evening. Sunday night, as we returned home, I slammed into the proverbial wall and have been pretty much down for the count all this week. I am having pain, Mast cell reactions, and fighting a bug.

Several years ago I could have and did host many events in my home frequently without any impact. We were part of a church plant that met in a community center and later a school on Sundays so since we had a larger home and no kids at home, we hosted all church events as well as ladies bible studies, life group as well as frequent swim parties and BBQs. I thrived on it and loved every second of it.

When chronic illness struck I began having to count the cost on activities. I still love folks in our home and for the most part have smaller groups over and keep things very low key and simple. I think the masking of my pain by being on a pain medication since early November enabled me to feel better and I easily deceived myself into thinking I could once again do it all, like I was normal. And it was fun to pretend until it all came crashing down.

As I rest up this week, I am reminding myself, what I have shared on here before, to count the cost and decide on things based on eternal benefits and impacting others for Christ. I am also remembering my precious friend JoAnn, who passed away three months ago, always reminding me about not running out of spoons. I need another friend like her who understood limitations from her personal experience and was so fun, caring and full of faith to remind me. If you do not understand what that means read the Spoon Theory.

https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

Would I do it again? Yes. But ask me again next week. 😉

I will include a few shots of the table runner I sewed and from my pretense of being normal. <><

hope all of you are all doing well and counting the cost of all you do in view of what matters in eternity.

Blessings,

Deb