Don’t you love how God works sometimes?
A few weeks ago I removed my mask. I let you (and myself) see what lies underneath. Not so pretty. (Read Unmasked here) Since then, God’s been leading me to various social media messages, devotionals, and blog posts about waiting well and being in the wilderness. Not one of these posts has told me anything new. Not one brought new Scriptures to my attention. Not one gave me some hidden gem I didn’t know I needed.
Each one has encouraged me greatly!
Each one reminded me of Truths I’ve either forgotten or ignored.
Each one gave me a new perspective.
Each one allowed the Spirit and me to talk about things we either hadn’t talked about in a while, if at all.
Each one led me one step closer to healing.
One such post was written by Melissa McLaughlin, When God Says Wait.
As I pondered and processed this post—meditated on the Truth proclaimed in it—I realized, God perfectly timed this message. Had prepared me and my stubborn heart for it.
This is what I needed to hear, what I needed to remember: “For the LORD, every moment in this period of what appeared to be aimless meandering [the Israelites desert wandering] was actually laden with deep purpose. God used this season to teach the people who He was and to establish and nurture His relationship with them…What was God accomplishing while they waited? The text does not explicitly state, however, we know that as they waited they drew near His presence, they rested their weary bodies, they gazed upon His majestic power and they strengthened their hearts in Him.”
My current season is “laden with deep purpose!”
And so is yours!
No matter what your season is—wilderness, valley, furnace, or mountaintop. Your season is laden with deep purpose.
To be honest, I don’t feel like I’m wandering. I feel like—I’m burning. Not a day has gone by that I hadn’t realized there’s a purpose to this season, but the profoundness of that truth got lost in the muck and the mire…in the darkness.
So, yes, I do know there’s a purpose to this season. I believe it. I know the dreams God planted in my heart are dreams He’ll bring to fruition.
And there IS a purpose to this season for you too! Believe it!
Do you feel like your wandering? Or, like me, do you feel like you’re being refined?
I’ve spent A LOT of time in both situations. Both are painful, at first, and both are exciting! When you’re wandering and you finally submit and seek God with all your heart and let Him guide you (Proverbs 3:4-6), the discovery of your path is amazing! Because it may be obscure and hard to see, one you never thought you could take, or in an area you never dreamed of.
But refinement is different. I know my path. If this is your season, I bet you know yours too–even if some uncertainty remains.
I know where He’s taking me. I know where He wants me to go. But for some reason, I’m being held back. Unable to move forward. I’m like those horses at the starting gate Melissa talked about. Chomping at the bit. Snorting. Pawing at the ground. Ready to run! But there are barriers all around, and I can’t move.
I have to wait.
As I chatted with Jesus about Melissa’s post and the others I’d read this week, He reminded me of a journal entry I wrote way back in early January—“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24) Lord, invade the deepest recesses of my soul, heart, and mind. Reveal and purge anything not of you, INCREASE MY DESIRE FOR YOU, LORD! Lead me in this ministry. In you. FOR YOUR GLORY NOT MINE!”
I know, what a dangerous prayer to pray! But I did pray it. With sincerity. With conviction.
I knew it then, and I KNOW it now. I was desperate for more of Him. For less of me. For the darkness to be chased away. For the joy that comes in the morning.
And God is always God. He is faithful! When His kids seek Him, we will find Him when we seek Him will all our heart. (Deuteronomy 4:29) And though this season is so very hard, I don’t regret praying that prayer.
Instead, I’m so glad I prayed it.
Friend, God is answering my prayer.
And you know what, He’ll answer yours too.
Let me share what Jesus and I talked about, and see if it resonates with you.
Have you ever experienced a steam burn? Been scalded by boiling water (212°F)? So NOT a blessing!
Now, try to imagine 1,948°F, the melting point for gold, and the energy it would take to get a fiery furnace up to the temperature. Can you hear the roar of the flames as they inhale all the oxygen in their reach? Feel the heat?
Now imagine 13,636°F (7 x 1,948°F). (Daniel 3:19) This was the temperature of the fiery smelting furnace Nebuchadnezzar threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into when they refused to bow before his newly minted golden statue.
Can you see it? Hear it? It had to sound like an F5 tornado! The heat was so overpowering it killed the soldiers who tied them up and took them up to the mouth of the furnace.
Let’s go there with them? You may be thinking, I am there with them.
Hog-tied on the floor. My enemies looming over me. Then a beefy guard picks me up with the ease of picking up an infant and tosses me over his shoulder…and the heat gets stronger and stronger, more oppressive with each step he takes…
What are you thinking? Feeling?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had to have been terrified. I’m terrified!
But they were adamantly determined to trust God. To believe Him. They knew He could deliver them from this death, but if he chose not to—they would remain faithful to Him.
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18
WOW! Talk about determined conviction!
But God didn’t deliver them from the furnace. They went in. Head first.
Nor did He deliver them by it. They didn’t burn up. They didn’t die.
God delivered them through it, but they were not alone.
The pre-incarnate Christ walked WITH them among the flames! (Daniel 3:24-25) They had to face the fear. Endure the heat. BUT THEY WEREN’T ALONE! When they stood instead of kneeling, He was there. When they were arrested, He was there. When they were bound, He was there. When they were throw in, He was there.
When their bonds burned away, He was there.
Every step they took afterward, He was there!
And He is there with you too.
Friend, this is what God and I talked about last night:
- He is answering my prayer for refinement.
- He is with me every step of the way.
- The only thing burning away is my bonds.
- If my determination to remain faithful to Him matches these three men, when I come out of this season, I won’t even smell of smoke.
But first, I must invite Him to burn away everything holding me captive. Everything not honoring to him. Everything I’m clinging to like a child clutching her favorite toys. (Sin, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness—oh, and let’s not forget pride) I have to let go of these things, allow Him to burn them up. And once my hands are empty, they will be better able to cling firmly to His hand.
Here’s my AHA moment—
Up until this point I’ve been clinging to things that are
- Holing me back from wholeheartedly fulfilling my purpose, my calling
- Preventing me from engaging in a deeper relationship with Christ
- Distracting me from seeing where He’s leading me
- Frustrating my spiritual growth
- Prohibiting me from bearing quality, abundant fruit
- Driving my toward the pit of depression
To be honest, I didn’t realize I was clinging to these things. Most I knew were there, I just didn’t realize I was clutching them so ardently to my breast. I had to humble myself and ask Him to help me see them, to have the courage to see them, and to actually acknowledge they were there.
I think that’s where the majority of the pain comes from. It’s HARD to face your own wretchedness, isn’t it? Especially when part of facing it requires talking to others and admitting to it and asking for forgiveness. But letting Jesus burn those bonds from you and inviting Him to heal your brokenness is worth it. In time, those wounds will become scars that heal others.
Let’s face it, more often than not, we cling to the things we do to either hide from our brokenness, to cover it up, or distract ourselves and others from it.
That was enough to drive me to my knees, but God wasn’t done.
After Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s bonds were burned away—they still had to spend time in the furnace! They weren’t immediately released. They walked around. Moved. With purpose. (vs25) They didn’t sit huddled in the corner, clutching each other. They walked with Jesus. They talked with Jesus.
And their faith EXPLODED!
When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire, they weren’t the same men!
You won’t be either.
And neither will I. I can already feel my passion for what He’s called me to do reigniting! I can feel the flickering of flames searching, reaching—hungry! Ready to consume me.
But before this season fades and ushers in a new one we need to
- Relinquish what’s holding us captive
- Trust Jesus in the flames
- Walk with Jesus in the flames
- Talk with Jesus in the flames
So, Beloved, what are you clinging to? Are you ready to let it go? The fire is already blazing…let it have your bonds.
I bet when you walk away, you won’t even smell like smoke!
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