Through the Fire
Sometimes it happens that God will test us; He’ll send us through the fire of adversity to refine us, and He’ll give us a choice, and see what we do. Well…God brought me face-to-face with a choice 2 days ago, and it was actually one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, though outwardly it probably seemed like everything was fine, inwardly there was a battle going on of epic proportions. I will share it with you, as I refer to my journal, though it’s hard…but I’m sharing it because I believe that this might be able to give some of you a perspective that you’ve never considered before on certain things…because I know I surely hadn’t.
I will preface this tale by telling you that on Thursday I was struggling a lot with my own desires – especially the desire to have a relationship, to be married, and to have a family. It was a pretty much a constant struggle throughout the day, as I tried to take my thoughts and desires captive and give them to God – I was getting exhausted just trying to keep up with them!
Then the Petrofskys led a Bible study at the house of some acquaintances Thursday night. It was a really nice time, and the message was about the time in 1 Samuel, when the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the temple of Dagon, and when the people woke up the next morning, the idol, Dagon, was on his face before the ark…and how our idols have to fall before the presence of the Lord in our lives. It was a really good study, and Mr. Petrofsky brought up some of the big things that become idols for most Americans, like success and entertainment. But I have heard these things multiple times throughout the last few months, and wasn’t particularly feeling like I personally was learning much of anything new. God has actually made it relatively easy (not a piece of cake, but not as much of a struggle as it is for some people) for me to give up worldly movies and music and worldly success, because none of those things has held a particularly strong hold on me, compared to the joys of the Lord.
However, toward the end of the Bible study, one of the guys asked Joel to share what they had been talking about earlier about what he foresaw as far as the direction of his own life…and Joel began sharing about how his whole life – all his plans, desires, and dreams are surrendered to the Lord completely……and in that moment, God was there beside me. He just suddenly opened my eyes and brought me face-to-face with the reality of what actually surrendering everything to Him could mean…and it was hard – really hard. He didn’t confront me about any of those things which I gave up without even much of a second thought when He asked me. He confronted me with the desires I have said I was surrendering to the Lord, but at the same time, holding onto the hope that my own desires were what God wanted for me, and not fully surrendering, or even really understanding what that truly meant. And, He confronted me with the very thing I had been struggling with so much that very day…which actually made what He was showing me even more intense.
I suddenly realized that if I actually completely surrender my desire for a relationship to the Lord, I am giving up having a lifelong closeness and intimate friendship with a guy, I am giving up ever having a first kiss or holding hands, I am giving up the security of having a husband to lead me and teach me and council me, I am giving up being able to serve God side-by-side with a husband, I am giving up having my own family………and all that is hard – incredibly hard, because my flesh wants it so badly. And it is doubly hard because I know that, despite all the joys of heaven, once I die, I will never again have the opportunity to be married, because things don’t work quite like that in heaven – so if I give it up on earth, I give it up for good. But I give it up for God.
And yet, I know that this realization does not mean that God will never let me be married. He may yet bless me with that. But God brought me to this place of realizing all of these things, so that the full weight of the reality of what He requires of me would fill me, and then He gave me a choice, so that I would not be surrendering in words only, but in truth. I had to choose. I had to choose if I would look back; if those things were more important to me than serving God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength, or if I truly love God more than life, more than my own dreams and my strongest desires. I believe God made this so clear to me and showed me the full picture so that I could make a fully informed choice.
I sat there for what seemed like hours, though it couldn’t have been…but I was wrestling with my own desires, with what God was showing me, and with all the pleasures the devil was laying before me. It felt like a tidal wave was pounding over me…and yet, as the roaring filled my ears, and the immense power nearly swept me off of my feet, God filled my mouth with the words, and my heart with the determination, and I said, “Yes. Yes, Lord, I will follow you no matter what it means. I will give up my life for you. All I am is yours. It’s impossible for me to go back, or to live only mostly surrendered to you. Take my life, Lord, and use it in any way you can – any way you choose. It’s all yours.”
So, it was a very sobering night for me…and the past couple of days I have been in a rather serious state of mind. But at the same time, I am rejoicing that the Lord caused my heart to be able to say “yes” to Him in the midst of the strongest of desires and dreams and doubts pulling at my heart.
I don’t know where the Lord will use me, or how…but I know that He is my Beloved, and there is nothing and no one else in this world that could ever be more worthy of my love and my life. There can be no turning back. And even if God does ever bring me into a marriage relationship, it must all be for His glory, and not for myself…and it can never be more important to me than Him.
O Lord, I pray that you would take this insignificant life of mine, and these petty desires that mean so much to my flesh, and use it - use me – to bring glory to your name.
But you know what the most special thing is? Jesus himself has called us – each of us – to follow him by name. That is amazingly special; that He himself has called us and set us apart for himself. May we live in a manner that is pleasing to Him. And may we serve Him with a joy that is befitting the amazing grace He has shown us, and the privilege He has given us of serving Him, and being used by Him.
And if you have any questions, feel free to ask away. )
“Take all I am, Lord
And all that I cling to
You are my Savior
I owe everything to
Take all the treasures
That lie in my storehouse
They cannot follow
When I enter Your house….
And I surrender all to You;
I surrender all.”