Every year I pray for one word. I ask God to give me one word to define the year ahead. In January of 2015, I felt the word I received was “Limitless”.
What I thought my awesome word for the year meant, was completely different than what the Lord had in store.
In my story line for the year, “limitless” meant limitless dreams, limitless potential, limitless aspiration, anything and everything I needed was limitless as I was going to pursue my goals. As it turned out, I was going to have to tap into the limitless love, limitless grace, limitless perseverance and limitless strength from the Lord… I was going to need every ounce of love, grace, perseverance, and strength that the Lord had for me during one of the most difficult years of my 43 years on this earth.
This is the screensaver I so arrogantly plastered on my phone with my high expectations of what I thought was going to happen.
2015 offered me the lowest lows— and in those very low moments, I could see the Lord moving His hand in mighty ways I would have never dreamed or imagined. Those lows, would ironically also be some of the highest points of my year as well. Because even in the lowest moments, when I could feel the fire, I knew I was being refined. There were glimpses of His Greatness and His grace that I came to depend upon. This is not a fun process, but in order to be more like Christ, it is necessary.
In biblical times the refiner would take a rock and break it down so they could begin the refining process. It wasn’t just any rock though, it was one with bits of silver and gold in it. It had potential, it had value because of the pieces in it. The rock just needed to go through the refining process to get to the place where it was pure.
I was like that clump of a rock. I had to be broken down.
“Whatever it takes Lord use me.” I remember telling God. Can I just say, don’t pray that prayer unless you mean it?!?! Maybe I should have left out the “whatever it takes” part!
And then I said something along these lines “God I don’t want to be confined in a box but I want you to use me in ways that I never dreamed.”
Little did I realize, that as I would be used in the way my heart was desiring, I would also have to be broken down– I needed to be refined.
Jeremiah 23:29 (NLT) says
“Does not my word burn like fire?”
says the Lord.
“Is it not like a mighty hammer
that smashes a rock to pieces?”
A hammer came down upon my life that smashed it into many pieces. I was broken and afraid.
But I wasn’t left there.
You see, once the rock is broken, its’ pieces are placed into a fireproof melting pot that can take a lot of heat. I was protected by the melting pot but it didn’t keep me from feeling the heat. There is a specific, extremely hot temperature, that helps separate the junk from the metal. This process will make the metal so much more valuable. Just as the silversmith holds the silver or gold over the heat, our Heavenly father allows us to feel the heat so to bring out the impurities of our hearts and lives.
These impurities rise to the top during the heating process and the silversmith skims them off of the top. Perhaps it’s a pessimistic attitude, unholy thoughts, jealousy, bad habits, a sense of entitlement, materialism— whatever it may be, those negative traits rise to the top and are removed from the precious metal.
Then the heat is turned up even higher and he puts the melting pot back into the fire. Each time the melting pot is placed in the fire, more impurities come to the top and are removed. The refiner continues this process looking for His image in the metal. The more gunk that comes off the top, the more visible His reflection becomes. The refiner knows the process is complete when He can clearly see His image in the reflection of the silver or gold. Our refiner, our Heavenly Father, knows exactly what He is doing. He knows His plan for me and what I need to go through to remove every bit of the unnecessary stuff.
“But he knows where I am going.
And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.”
My fleshly desires had to be burnt out. My bad attitude. My pity party. My “it’s all about me” mentality. All those things had to be sent through the fire in order to get to the place where it’s not my wants, not my thoughts, not my vision… but HIS!
“I have refined you, but not as silver is refined.
Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.”
This last year has been a year of pain and suffering. It’s been challenging emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. But I am certain it was a season of refining. I had to go through the process of removing the impurities to make me reflect more of His character and less of mine.
During this season, there were times I felt alone, isolated, hurt, fearful and anxious. When doubt would arise, I saw His hand move. When I felt hopeless, I would get glimpses during the most difficult times and it offered me hope. Even if I felt alone, I knew He was always with me— guiding me, protecting me and not allowing the fire to consume or engulf me with flames.
There were times I wanted to quit, and days that I was just trying to figure out how I was going to make it through. But I pressed on. I praised my way through. I didn’t give up, even though I came so close. When I was at my weakest moments, I asked for help and thats when His strength would swell up in me to get me through the darkest hours.
“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.”
At times, I felt overwhelmed by life’s circumstances but He always kept my head above water. I felt the heat but He did not allow me to get burnt. The only thing that was getting burnt was the crap that was attached to me.. or the crap I was attached to.
Whatever you’ve been through this last year, month, week, day, remember this:
There is purpose in your problems
There is strength in your struggle
There is power in your pain
There is promotion in your predicament
There is development in your discomfort
There is a blessing in your battle
Remain steadfast in Him and hold on to His promise, it will be worth it when you get to the other side!
Yep, 2015 burnt the crap out of me… and I’m so glad it did. I’m better without all the extra, unnecessary “stuff” that I was hanging on to and that was hanging on to me. The process was difficult but it was so worth it.
With 2015 in the rearview mirror, I’m really looking forward to 2016’s adventures and opportunities for growth!