Saturday, March 4, 2017

In the Fire

It was not easy for any of us but it magnified my dependence on others, especially Christ.
It was almost ten years ago exactly that I faced one of the biggest milestones of my life. Five days before my sixteenth birthday, I had jaw surgery. It would mark the beginning of six weeks of recovery and of eating only blended, smashed and liquid foods. It was filled with sleepless nights for my parents as they slept beside me on the floor in the living room. And it was full of slowly learning to eat again as the bones began to heal. There are a lot of little things that stick out to me about that summer; it was not easy for any of us but it magnified my dependence on others, especially Christ.
It took a lot of trust throughout the process. I went from having to write notes down on a dry erase board, to an Arby’s milkshake making my birthday, to a surprise trip to Disney World with some family, to the best little hamburger at McDonald’s I’ve ever had in my whole life after six weeks of smashed up food. I learned a lot, like what it means to have courage in the face of adversity or how to rely on the strength of someone else. Just today I looked at some old pictures with my dad and noted that I think it was worth it to have the surgery but it was definitely hard and it was entirely a faith filled journey.
It seems like a lot of life has been like that—a continuous adventure filled with seasons of unexplainable hardships, seasons of abiding joy and seasons mixed with uncertainty and happiness. But it is in these moments that I have come to realize what true faith really means to me. It is easy to have faith when everything is good, but what about when the rains come? As much as it hurts, it also stretches us and a faith that has been tested runs deeper and wider than a faith that has never been called upon.
1 Peter 1:6-7 is a great example of this. It tells us, “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold […] So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”
We also find a reference in Proverbs 17:3 which says, “Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the LORD tests the heart.”
I have always been drawn to the idea of silver and gold being purified. It’s such a great illustration for life. The precious metals must enter the fire before they can become their best form. The Life Application Bible says, “It takes intense heat to purify gold and silver. Similarly, it often takes the heat of trials for the Christian to be purified. God shows us what is in us and clears out anything that gets in the way of complete trust in him.” (Proverbs 17:3 Commentary). I read a story about a blacksmith that poetically said “the only way to know when the process of purifying is complete is when he sees his own image reflected in the silver” (Author unknown). I’d bet our Maker is doing the same.
I face the uncertainty of surgery again this week and my heart has to once again trust. It must be one of the things I struggle with the most because God seems to keep teaching me about it. I got a card this week that had some profound words. It read: “God does not wait for us to reach out, to ask for help, and to get on our knees. God just goes ahead and takes our hands before we ask. He tells us what we need to hear: Don’t be scared. I’m right here. Always have been, always will.” It was like God was speaking directly to me and I was grateful.
If you’re in the fire, if you are being tested—don’t give up. I am there too and I have been there before. Not only have I been there before, but I've come through to the other side. You will too! God is simply polishing the great work He made.
Please join me in prayer over Wednesday, April 1 as I have an outpatient procedure done on my tear duct. Pray for a smooth procedure with no complications and a quick recovery. Trusting Him! Thank you!
-Only Hope

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