Choices
The Refiner's Fire I’m going to do something I don’t usually do on this site. In fact, this will be the first time. I wouldn’t do it this time if I didn’t think it was necessary. I’m going to use a quote from the bible. Now, don’t get me wrong because I am in no way opposed to quoting the bible, I just think that too many people do it too casually without thinking or taking the time to understand what they’re saying. Quoting the bible too causally at the wrong time doesn’t usually help. It often turns seekers or young (spiritually) Christians away. I see all too often people with good intentions bombarding a simple question or issue with unsolicited scripture. There is a time, a place, and a right way. This is one of those times and places and I have to do it the right way. Some people insist on using only the King James Version because to many people it is the “authorized version.” Whether it really is or not isn’t important right now. That issue has been discussed, debated, and argued by experts and scholars for a long time. The KJV is as accurate as any other translation, probably more so than some others that have been questioned. The difficulty is that it was written in 1611 and many people have trouble with 1611 English and are confused by it. So I don’t get deluged with complaints because I didn’t use the right version I will include two different translations, first the good old King James: And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: (Isa 1:25 KJV) Next, from the Good News Bible, which is a bit easier to follow: I will take action against you. I will purify you the way metal is refined, and will remove all your impurity. (Isa 1:25 GNB) Use whichever translation you prefer, they both say the same thing, and that’s what I want to talk about. The process of refining. Refining, as you may know, is removing various impurities with the result being a pure form of whatever is to be refined. For this example I’ll use gold since it is the most precious metal we have, it’s the best substance to use for my purpose right now and last but not least it is mentioned in the bible more than any other metal (419 verses). Unless refined, gold is of less value and use. The same applies to sugar, salt, or a thousand other things, so the need for refinement is obvious and I can move on to the point. The past 4 years have been terrible for me, the darkest of my life. My marriage of 20 years ended. I quit the best job I ever had for a person I should never have trusted. After working 30 years I became disabled. I have moved more times than I can count, losing or leaving something behind every time. Because of the time involved in the disability process I am 4 years behind in my bills, deeper in debt than I can ever hope to cover. Among the few bright spots is that I was married again 3 years ago to the person I wish I would have met 25 years ago. She has, unfortunately, had to support me through this disability battle. I don’t have words for that. To work all of my life, to support a family and pay my bills and then to be supported by a new wife whom I had intended to support and pamper was a hard pill to swallow. What we thought was a bright spot has turned out to be another disappointment. Now we find that we have to move again after we thought we had found a place to spend the rest of our lives. We had dreams that are now just broken dreams and plans that will never be realized. I don’t know where we will go, or what we will lose or leave behind this time. I’ve spent a lot of time being mad at God, a lot of time raging and screaming at Him. I spent a lot of time listening to the enemy. I listened, and blamed God. If I was Him I would have turned my back on me, or worse. But He didn’t rage back, he didn’t give me some terrible disease or make me homeless. He didn’t take my wife or my life. Sometimes I’m so stupid and so stubborn. I deserve hell but I get patience. I thought, even up until I started writing this article, that I had been allowing the enemy to divert my attention. I thought that I had allowed Satan to lead me away and rage at God’s power and innocence. But I was wrong. I just made the same mistake I usually make, I put the emphasis on me rather than God. I didn’t let Satan distract me, God let him. Why? Because God likes to see me suffer? No. Because God has a strange sense of humor? Maybe He does but that’s not why either. Because God is sadistic? Of course not. God loves me, and you, more than we can imagine and will never allow anything to cause us pain unless he has a very good reason. Ok, so why then? It was part of the refining process. Gold isn’t a liquid by nature, melting it to the temperatures necessary to render it pure are very high. Iron is soft by nature, and in order to shape it and harden it, it must be heated to a high temperature and beat on with a hammer then cooled at just the right temperatures. Then, when shaped and hardened it can be polished and becomes useful. Drastic changes sometimes take drastic measures. That’s why He allows Satan to test us to our limits. That’s why He allows us to be pushed farther than we think we can be pushed. Never be deceived into thinking that Satan has unlimited power over us. Never be fooled into thinking that for a second. He doesn’t. People wonder why God allows Satan to wander around. That’s why. Not because Satan has that option or that right, or even the power to defy God. He doesn’t. He is evil, he corrupted all of creation. Even so, he is subject to God’s sovereign power. God says jump and he jumps. He probably fumes and hates it but he does it. God uses him to refine us, to make us purer and stronger and, if we keep our minds open, to learn. It probably infuriates Satan, he wants us dead, yet he becomes the process that refines us. Bad things happen, they happen to everyone, Christian and not Christian. Christians get hit the most because Satan hates us. A child dies, a young man in his 20s sees his life as a failure and tries to kill himself, a family has a fire and is homeless, a sister gets cancer, a 30 year job is lost, a spouse is killed in a senseless act or accident, another marriage ends because one just stopped loving the other. So much pain around us. God doesn’t want to hurt us, he wants to lead us home. If through it all we keep our eyes and our focus on Him, we will come through the fire and we will come through it purer, and stronger. God knows our limits and our breaking points. He knows everything, He never fails. Ever. Above all, we MUST keep in mind that God is Love. Love can only work for us, never against us.
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