Saturday, May 14, 2011

In the Mind of Yours Truly, Part 2 of 3: Shiny. . .Blog Day #18

Ok, so in part 1, I mentioned being refined and feeling "shiny". . ..

The reference comes from God's true Word, the Bible:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9, NASB, italics and highlights added)

To take the impurities out of a gold piece, it must be melted in fire and separated from any other elements. So to take this figuratively, we can be a gold piece, refined through the fire of our troubles, coming out more pure than before. In other words, to gain strong purity and joy in life, all we have to do get through the other side of our trials. No problem, right?

If only it were that easy. . .

If I'm not going through a third-life crisis, maybe I’m just on the other side of a refining period and feeling “shiny.”

I can't say the first one-half of this year has been great. . .In fact, it started off pretty rough. I was on that narrow path to God, following Him and striving to obey. But some things were getting harder and harder to work at, and I reached a crossroads. 

One way looked easier.  The path didn't seem as narrow, there was plush and fragrant grass in a bright hue of green that seemed to shine. There seemed to be gaiety and liveliness.  There was the hustle and bustle that comes with an exciting crowd.  There was an assortment of smells wafting my way: cologne, meat cooking, wine, bread baking.  I couldn't really see too far down this path, but it sure was inviting.

The other way was so narrow that it would barely fit my own two feet. It was quiet, and I had to listen very carefully to hear the sound of a spring or brook nearby. There didn't seem to be very many people there.  I thought I could hear singing and laughter, but couldn't quite tell. The path turned a sharp corner, and had a row of trees that blocked my view. The only thing clear was that you had to keep your feet on the path to be able to follow it.

The first path: doing what I wanted.  Me, myself, and I.  Giving in to my whims and desires. Escaping the problems that laid so heavy on my heart. Explaining to myself that there is better, I deserve better, and am totally justified to seek out my own happiness. Plenty of people seek out what they think is best and they turned out fine. They turned out satisfied and happy, even. You deserve to follow your heart, to have what you've always wanted, to be satisfied and happy just like those other people.  

The second path: waiting for and choosing God's way. Bringing honor to Jesus' name. Obeying Him in everything I do. Keep walking even though I feel weary. Making conscious decisions to have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Keeping a steady pace even though I want to quit. Drawing strength by stopping and absorbing the stillness. Ignoring the feelings of self-doubt and failure. 

 I actually didn't know which way I wanted to go. One seemed so appealing, the other so hard. One was the easier route, the other so arduous. 

The more I thought about my life, the more I was at war with myself. Was I to do what I wanted and what the world was telling me would lead to my happiness? Or was I to love God and obey Him, which meant I needed to hold His hand and endure?

For a couple of months, I heard this message, "Wait."  I wanted to move on, and move on quickly. I dislike wallowing and dwelling and thinking  and planning and thinking some more. I love to be a woman of action and "get 'er done." But there was only message, "Wait." 

I wanted to go go go. I didn't care what was at the end of the paths, I wanted to decide and move on.


So, spiritually, I sat on a tree stump and waited for the "okay" to get up. I didn't make any decisions, except to want what God wants-- that my love for God was more important that what was going on in my head.

Then things got even harder. My emotions were in turmoil. Bitterness was eating away at me. The future seemed so bleak, and that first path seemed so bright. I stared at it so long, I had trouble looking back to the second path. 

"God, I want what you want.  Help me want what you have for me."

And then He told me to walk down the narrow path. As soon as I took my first step, the thick trees all burst into flames. "Really, God? Walk through that?"

"Trust me."

"But where are you? I want to see you."

"Trust me."

I walked nearer to the fire. 'Hot' would be a boring way to describe how it felt. I began to tremble in fear, scared of the wounds that would scar forever, if I even survived.  But one foot in front of the other, I obeyed. I kept on. I closed my eyes, and walked toward the heat. When I opened my eyes, I found myself in the center of a forest fire. I felt scalded, but strangely not burned. I was able to fix my eyes on the path ahead. One foot in front of the other. The longer I walked, the less intense the heat became.

And as suddenly as it started, the flames disappeared and the heat was gone. I found myself next to a calm and beautiful spring. The grass here was soft, verdant, and sweet. The path still snaked around into dark forest but I noticed for the first time that there was a glowing light on the horizon, where the path seemed to be running to.

My entire being was parched, and I barely had enough strength to drink the water from the brook.  Quenched, I collapsed onto the bed-like ground.  I took a breath deeper than I had since I sat on the stump at the crossroads.  My skin tingled like it does after a long shower.

I survived the fire, and came out with a deep-seeded sense that my faith passed the test. I obeyed.  I waited. I trusted.

I grew in faith, rewarded with joy inexpressible. I obeyed, and my soul was saved. I trusted, and the lies were burned and separated from me.


Lord, let my new shininess light the path for others to see.

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