Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Refiners Fire

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;"
Luke 22:31

I feel as if I have been in the wrestling ring with God this week. I cannot begin to tell you all that has happened to give you a clear idea of my "there and back again" journey. Nor do you probably want to take the time to hear it all. So, I come only to share what I learned from this time of testing from God. I felt like when it was over, that Satan himself had come before God and asked permission (same as he did with Job) to sift me. I came to moments of tears, yelling out to God (in the quiet of my room, not in front of my kids), and even difficulty breathing at times when I felt I just could not be tried anymore. It has been humbling, graphic, and yet, I find myself bursting forth from this time of pruning with a permanent change that only this pain could bring. What an amazing God that he will use what Satan means for bad, to be my very outgrowth of joy. That is the epitome of awesome.

Here are my notes from my notebook:
-Is my desire to draw close to God and honor him, or is it to be the spiritual mommy who has it all together?
If it's the first, I can rejoice because I know from God's word that my very failings are being used for God's glory. (My pastor's wife lead me to 2 Cor. 12:7-10: 7Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself!
8Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.
9And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness " Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
10Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. ")

If it is for the second, it is motivated by pride and for the purpose of feeding my pride. I will constantly be frustrated as well (we do this in parenting as well when we are motivated for our children's behavior to change for our pride rather than God's glory).
- Am I willing to be humbled by my failings if God needs them to make my children who he has willed for them to be?
This is not to say that I become lax in my behavior but that I instead be willing to be humbled.
-My fear in my failing (My reaction is so ungodly when it's charterized by fear and pride. It's amazing that we can have both at once).
This is the fear of my children turning from God because they saw my failings as hypocrisy. I want to be the perfect image of Christ to them(and in this I bounce between a pure heart and a prideful heart as well in my motivations).
Jesus does not need me to be a flawless testimony or representation of him (John 2:24-25) to my kids. Yes, I need to strive for His glory in all things but I do not need to carry the burden of perfection. His testimony is from the Father and completed by His work, (on the cross) not mine.
-I feel the pain of being emptied out. It hurts my pride in every way. I was tempted to feel that God was toying with me. Why would he ask great things of me, and then make me so unable to fulfill them? Why do I get up and fall smack down on my face again and again? In other words, and more understandably...
Why do you ask me to race like a Nascar pro and yet take all the gas from my tank?!
This is not nice LORD! This is not fair! Why do you create man knowing he is born unto trouble as sure as the sparks fly upward? (Job 5:7) Why bother? Why put us through the misery of knowing there is a perfect way and yet making us struggle in the journey to reach it? Why put a desire for Christ likeness in us knowing beforehand that we cannot touch it?
Why? Do you not know how frustrated we will be with this? Can you not see our desire to be holy? Are we not more to you than those who reject you? Have you brought us to this point of realization of what our lives CAN be only to deny us?
The answer:
No, you have brought us to the place of great emptiness so that nothing but the power of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit can obtain these goals in our lives. My pride must be stripped entirely so I am not able to wear the "I got it now!" super-spiritual mommy shirt. I wear the work of Jesus-his blood shed for me.
My fear must be stripped so I can trust him completely to work through me the completeness he intends to. He will do it either way. My fear must go because it robs me of the blessings that come from trust. It feeds a frustrated and discouraged mothers heart.
All this to conclude that God does not intend to "fix" me. He does not intend to remove my weakness but to use it (again II Cor. 2). Through leaving it w/ me I am humbled and emptied out. One day he may give me relief from it- when the work he has accomplished in me through it is done. Then, there will be another trial of weakness he will use.
My weakness now is being an over reactive mother. A frazzled and frenzied mass of emotional minefields. So what am I to do?
1- Recognize that I am motivated by pride most of the time. That because I'm not shinning as the spiritual guru mom at that moment, THAT is why I 'm mad at myself. Repent of pride and find Joy that the Lord is sifting me like wheat, refining me like fire, stretching my spiritual muscles all of which involve pain.
2-Become friends with humility. Humble myself before the Lord and cry out to him (Psalm 50:15 has been on my lips and in my prayers). Even if I have to do this over and over and over. I need to fill my heart w/ passages from His word about Christ work and my need for Him.
3-Pray for deliverance from fear. (2 Tim 1:7) The enemy delights that I carry this baggage. Right now he has been winning but I'm aware of Christ's demanding victory on this issue because I belong to him.
-Train my mind to immediately replace guilt with repentance. Renew my heart w/ scripture about my sound position in Christ.
- Don't try to hide my struggle completely from my kids. This is not to say I display my lack of self control, no, but that I let them know that I am trusting God for my weakness and repenting. Humble myself in front and to them. Get use to that.

Well, that is the end of my notebook stuff.
It has been a very hard road to travel. Perhaps some of you have traveled it too. I hope you can be encouraged that these rough roads the Lord let's us go down are able to bear fruit in us. Pruning is painful and uncomfortable. This last week I felt that God not only pruned me, but that he chopped off a log sized section of me that was distracting me from bearing fruit. It took a long time for him to hack it off. I screamed and cried through the whole thing. Yet, the burden of my heart has been lifted. Oh, the joy that comes from his pruning. The weight that is lifted. More of him and less of me......
May I shrink so He is huge....
May I be humbled so he may be glorified...
May pain bear fruit in joy and faith...
In the midst of it all may I fall on grace.

Side Note: I'm adding this later. It's interesting... I watched "How Should We Then Live" by Francis Shaffer this morning while walking on the treadmill. It was the episode on The Revolutionary Age. Interesting quote from Shaffer:
"The men of the Enlightenment thought man and society were perfectible". This was, as Shaffer says, the base of the Humanistic Enlightenment.
It's amazing that me being caught up in the pride of striving for perfection can slip me quickly from Biblical thinking into Humanist thinking!

1 comment:

tricia w. said...

Alicia, God has gifted you with your ability to communicate. You have written what I have felt this last couple of weeks. I have realized that somedays I will have to go to God continually to make it through the day. I want this to be a permenant change. I fear it won't (one step forward, two back). I will trust God with that too. I will continue pray for you. Please pray for me.