"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
James 1:2-4 (NIV)
Have you ever been so "busy" that you don't take time to listen to God's voice? Well, that's where I've been lately. I keep myself busy and/or exhausted and don't take the time to actually listen to God. Sure, I make my requests known to Him and I read the Bible and study it, but I don't pause long enough to hear what He is saying to me. Being convicted of this, I decided I needed to still myself and tune into God. On my way to Bible study one night, I turned off all music, unplugged from my phone, quieted my thoughts and to-do lists, opened myself up to God and asked Him to speak to me. And do you know what I heard? "I am going to refine you like silver and gold." Oh, boy. Not exactly what I wanted to hear.
Refine comes from the Hebrew words tsaraph, meaning "to test and prove true, to smelt (melt in order to separate metal contained within); and, zaqaq, meaning "to purge, distill, purify." When I think about the refining process for silver and gold, I must admit I get a little scared at what's about to come. Silver and gold are refined by putting the metal in a furnace and heating it to high temperatures to melt away the dross (waste). What's left is beautiful, pure and shiny silver or gold.
When I think of a furnace I immediately think of the story of Daniel's friends - Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego (Daniel 3). They refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar's golden image, and so they were thrown into the fiery furnace, which was heated seven times hotter than usual just for them. I don't know about you, but I'm more of an air conditioning type of girl. The thought of 100 degree Texas summers doesn't appeal to me, much less a flaming furnace. But, something miraculous happens in midst the fire - Jesus appears with them. When the king looks in the furnace, he sees four men. And, they were all WALKING in the fire. They didn't sit down and complain about the fire, they were not consumed by the fire - they were active and walking in the fire. In fact, they walked right out of that fire. And, when they walked out of the furnace their skin and clothes were not singed and they did not smell of fire or smoke. However, there was one thing affected by the fire - their chains. Daniel 3:25 says that the four men walking in the fire were loosed from the chains that bound them. Hallelujah!
I have a few inklings as to what God is perfecting within me and purging out of me, but I have no clue as to how He is going to do it. I do know, however, that if God is choosing to refine me, then He must have something awesome planned and He is making me more like Him, which has been my prayer. Although, I'm not sure what exactly I'm about to undergo, I can say with confidence that it is for my good. My prayer for this time of trial is that I cling to Jesus, keeping my eyes fixed on Him, and that I respond to His refining fire. I pray that the dross and the chains that bind me will fall away. So, I will consider it joy that I undergo trials, for it is making me more like Him.