Today I had a serious discussion with God while standing on the back of the truck, siphoning water from our 55-gallon drum to our 7-gallon jug. Since coming to Minnesota, our path has been blocked so many times that I lost count. We have had weather delays, material delays, delays on getting help for projects. It took six weeks to get a foundation, and at almost nine weeks, we are still ‘camping’ in our house. We have had anger issues, communication issues, discipline issues with the kids, spiritual issues. We have fought with each other, fought with the kids, fought with God. We have prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed some more. Today I finally reached the breaking point. I sat on the edge of the truck and cried. I pleaded with God to take my anger from me, my bitterness, my grumbling. I prayed for him to replace it with the light and love of Jesus. I want to be a beacon of light to my family, my community, my friends, my kids, my husband. I got down on my knees and asked God to refine me. We talked for a bit about my selfishness, my inability to remain steadfast when I am tired, and crabby, and feeling worn down. I came back into the house with a renewed sense of purpose, and also a bit of happy sadness. I know, I know, that is an oxymoron, but it is true. I felt happy because I know that God is working with all his heart to refine me, and sad because it is rather painful and is going to require me to do many things and give up many things that I cling to desperately in my humanness.

Refining in the spiritual sense means a process similar to refining silver. There are many references to the refining of silver as a metaphor for the refining that God will do within us. Refining means being broken, and crushed, and put into the fire. It means being thrown into the fire to remove impurities, with more and more heat until all that is left is the pure and true. I always had some notion that following God would be easy. There is nothing easy about being refined! But this is what God wants for each and every one of us. Two verses came to me throughout my day:

1 Peter 4:12-13 (NIV) 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

James 1:3-4 (NIV) 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

I know that God wants us to be here in this place. I know that we cannot do it alone. I know that God will refine us and if we let him, he will complete us. So today, while filling up the water jug, I prayed. God, refine me in the rain and mud and wind. Refine me in the tantrums of a toddler. Refine me in the cold morning frost. Refine me in the endless sea of dishes and laundry and dirt. Refine me in the hauling water and slop buckets. Refine me as we build our house from the foundation to the roof. Refine me as we lay in a cold house with no insulation. Refine me as we try not to worry about having enough money to finish it all. Refine me as we head into winter with possibly no water,no septic, or electricity. Pull out my impurities- my bitterness, my anger, my selfishness, my stubborness. Heat me to the point of boiling so that all that is left is a reflection of you. Refine me God, so that in the Spring, I will emerge as a butterfly from its cocoon- fresh, new, and beautiful.

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